Anthony Martial scored Manchester United’s first Premier League hat-trick for more than seven years as he monopolised the scoring in a 3-0 win over Sheffield United.
Martial revelled in his role at the centre of an attack featuring Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, with the latter claiming the first of two assists in the seventh minute.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka made a mockery of questions over his attacking capabilities from right-back as he tormented Enda Stevens to set up Martial’s second a minute before half-time.
A clever chip completed his treble – becoming the first United player to do so in England’s top flight since Robin van Persie against Aston Villa in April 2013.
Sheffield United began on the front foot but fell behind when Marcus Rashford got to the byline and smashed across goal, where Martial nipped in front of Chris Basham to score.
Martial looked to return the favour when he raced clear in the 13th minute, only for Rashford to inexplicably scuff wide with the goal at his mercy.
Bruno Fernandes’ set-piece prowess was to the fore, with Simon Moore – in goal for the visitors due to Dean Henderson being unavailable against his parent club – pushing away a free-kick from the left before Harry Maguire had a header from the Portugal midfielder’s corner chalked off for a foul on Phil Jagielka.
The drinks break seemed to revitalise the Blades but more static defending allowed Martial to tuck home from Wan-Bissaka’s cross.
Mason Greenwood had a snap shot deflected behind by Jagielka 10 minutes into the second period, with Fernandes again vibrant in the build-up.
Martial swiped over in pursuit if his hat-trick, taking the ball off the toe of Paul Pogba – whose dazzling dribble was the shining moment of his first start since September.
The France forward would not be denied the matchball, however, exchanging passes with Rashford and producing a sublime dinked finish to seal the points 16 minutes from time as his side extended their unbeaten run to 13 games.
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Victory means Manchester United keep up the pressure on Chelsea and lie two points behind the fourth-placed side, who host Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
No goals and one point from a dismal three-game run since the Premier League restart means Sheffield United are rapidly fading from that equation.
Fernandes sets the tone
Fernandes was unable to add to his hastily compiled tally of goals and assists in England but it was again clear United are a team transformed since his January arrival from Sporting CP. The 25-year-old was bright and inventive at the heart of a dominant performance and the early signs are that he and Pogba will thoroughly enjoy one another’s company.
Jagielka wilts in the heat
Sheffield United’s esteemed former England international did not sign up for playing against relentless, pacey attackers in 30-degree temperatures at 37 years of age. Jagielka was left in Rashford’s wake for the opener and this was largely an ordeal for he and his team-mates thereafter.
An FA Cup quarter-final at Norwich City on Saturday means Solskjaer will have the chance to advance ambitions for a first piece of silverware in his Old Trafford tenure, with Sheffield United hosting Arsenal at the same stage of the competition on Sunday.