Manchester United finally ended their eight-game winless streak away from home in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday.
The Red Devils have built impressively on their 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool last week, grinding out a hard-fought 1-0 win away at Partizan in the Europa League before Sunday’s match.
As is the case for most games involving Manchester United right now, even taking a 3-0 lead wasn’t straightforward, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side missing two penalties: one after Scott McTominay’s opener – United’s 2000th Premier League strike – and one between the game-killing goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
It was the latter two who missed from 12 yards but given his pre-match comments about wanting to use Martial as his main striker, Solskjaer will be delighted with the chemistry shown on the pitch between the Frenchman and Rashford, as well as the resilience from both the bounce back and get on the scoresheet.
The duo caused havoc for the Norwich backline, completing five dribbles between them and firing a combined eight shots on target, while they dovetailed off each other superbly with their pace and movement. Whenever Martial drifted wide, Rashford was there to drive into the spaces he left and if he wasn’t, Daniel James was.
Marcus Rashford has now scored 50 goals for Manchester United across all competitions.
The half-century. 🔴⚫ pic.twitter.com/rrE5SLsAEd
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 27, 2019
United doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when Rashford superbly controlled James’ expert pass, marauding through on goal and beating Tim Krul in calm fashion having been denied from the spot by the Dutchman just moments earlier. Even though he didn’t score or assist this goal himself, it was Martial’s movement off the forward line which allowed him to play the ball to James for the killer pass, while it also sucked two Norwich defenders his way to create acres of space for Rashford on the other side of the pitch.
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The 44th minute was Martial’s turn to miss a penalty and Krul will probably be spending the next few days asking serious questions of his teammates after another heroic display still yielded three goals conceded and no points.
But, just like Rashford, Martial showed strong mental fortitude and linked up brilliantly with his forward partner to turn the Norwich defence inside out before lifting the ball calmly over Krul. It took just seven touches of the ball between Rashford and Martial for them to work themselves into the box, beyond the Canaries’ defence and into the back of the net.
A late defensive lapse allowed Onel Hernandez to restore some pride for Daniel Farke’s men and Solskjaer will undoubtedly by irked by his side’s inability to keep a clean sheet.
However, looking at the bigger picture, United have conceded the third-lowest number of goals (10) in the Premier League this season and are surprisingly solid at the back. It’s at the other end of the pitch where they’ve struggled.
Still, Solskjaer has been unrelenting in his support of Martial and Rashford, two players who have been written off time and again during their Old Trafford careers, and has always insisted they can indeed provide the spark for United.
Sunday provided a glimpse of just how dynamic their partnership could be, with their pace, trickery and directness leaving Norwich without answers. Solskjaer’s faith has well and truly been rewarded.