Worth every penny. PA Wire/PA Images
Dream Debut

Anthony Martial marks Man United debut with stunning goal in win over Liverpool

Louis van Gaal’s side returned to winning ways at Old Trafford.

THE FIRST-HALF was forgettable but Anthony Martial ensured the second will live long in the memory as Manchester United returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over bitter rivals Liverpool.

After a drab first-half at Old Trafford, the contest sprung into life when Daley Blind finished a perfectly executed set-piece routine before Ander Herrera doubled the hosts’ lead from the penalty spot.

It was only then that Liverpool began to play and they found a route back into the game with eight minutes remaining.

Divock Origi’s cross was headed up rather than out by Blind and Christian Benteke acrobatically volleyed past David de Gea.

But the show was stolen by the young French teenager on his United debut.

After collecting the ball on the left touchline, Martial weaved his way in between two Liverpool defenders before calmly slotting past Simon Mignolet into the corner.

The 19-year-old French striker signed from Monaco on transfer deadline day for a reported initial fee of £36 million, making him the world’s most expensive teenager, and he was quick to make his mark after coming on as a substitute for Juan Mata.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Liverpool - Old Trafford A job well done. PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Victory saw Louis van Gaal’s side return to winning ways following their 2-1 defeat at Swansea City and left them in second place, above Arsenal on goal difference and five points below leaders Manchester City.

Benteke’s breath-taking goal had briefly given Liverpool hope, but instead manager Brendan Rodgers was left to reflect on a second successive defeat following their 3-0 loss at home to West Ham United.

Wayne Rooney returned to Manchester this week having created a piece of history in mid-week by scoring a record-breaking 50th England goal, but he was ruled out by injury, so Marouane Fellaini started up front with Martial on the bench.

There were cheers for De Gea as he took his place in goal and the Spaniard was given a gentle re-introduction to life at Old Trafford as United immediately put the visitors on the back foot.

It was from a mistake by De Gea’s opposite number Simon Mignolet that United’s best first-half chance stemmed, the Belgian bowling the ball straight at Mata, but although the ball fell kindly at Fellaini’s feet, the former Everton midfielder chipped well over.

United made a change at the interval, Ashley Young replacing Memphis Depay, and the substitute was quick to make his presence felt, darting between two Liverpool defenders on the left and winning a free-kick that yielded the opening goal.

Mata rolled the set-piece to the edge of the box and with Bastian Schweinsteiger blocking off Nathaniel Clyne at the near post, Blind had the freedom of the penalty area to pick his spot.

Moments later, Blind found Schweinsteiger barrelling into the box following a short corner on the United left, but the Germany midfielder could not take the ball in his stride.

It had been a stress-free return for De Gea up to that point, but he found himself in the firing line as the hour-mark approached.

Britain Soccer Premier League Benteke's sensational goal was just a consolation. Jon Super Jon Super

First, his scuffed kick let in Roberto Firmino, whose low cross towards Benteke was alertly cut out by Chris Smalling, before a volley from Danny Ings — in for the suspended Philippe Coutinho — obliged him to spring to his right and tip the ball behind for a corner.

Shortly after, Blind came to United’s rescue, clearing Martin Skrtel’s header off his own goal-line and then flying out to thwart Firmino when the ball came back into the box.

Martial made his United bow in the 65th minute, replacing Mata, and within five minutes the home side had doubled their lead.

Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot after Liverpool’s teenage left-back Joe Gomez recklessly slid in on Herrera and the Spaniard slammed home the penalty.

Jordon Ibe’s introduction enlivened Liverpool, the 19-year-old extending De Gea with a left-foot strike and then teeing up Benteke’s spectacular goal with a deflected cross from the right.

But barely a minute later Martial stole everyone’s thunder, slaloming into the box from wide on the left to give the United faithful a new hero to serenade.

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