Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Anthony Martial’s display after he played a crucial part in United’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
The Red Devils moved level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool after edging the thriller. Bruno Fernandes’ penalty proved the winning moment despite a flurry of other chances.
But Frenchman Martial put the hosts in front at Old Trafford in the first half. Indeed, the 25-year-old scored his first goal from open play this season.
What’s more, the strike is only his fifth of the campaign, in which he has faced adversity including a sending off against Tottenham.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, though, Solskjaer insisted that Martial has beaten his tough patch.
“He’s got to keep playing as he did today, get on the ball, link with the players, be in between the posts,” the manager said.
“He’s had chances all season and maybe his confidence has had a knock a little bit earlier with the sending off and some niggles he’s had.
“But now he’s firing and he’s getting better and better.”
Villa had their fair share of chances and forced United goalkeeper David de Gea into action throughout.
Indeed, Fernandes’ 61st-minute penalty and several missed chances ensured a nervy finish.
Solskjaer added that he felt unhappy at the way his side defended in the final ten minutes.
Solskjaer frustrated at Man Utd approach
“I didn’t enjoy the last ten minutes much because I felt that we should have seen the game out in a better way,” he said. “It seemed like it was a cup final or the last game of the season.
“So we need to learn how to play out games better when we’re in the lead. We’ve shown that when we’re chasing a goal we’re capable of doing that.”
On what pleased him about his players’ performance, the Norwegian said: “We created chances, it’s always going to be a physical game.
“We know that they’ve improved massively and they gave us some challenges and there was a few times in that box that you were a bit worried.
“We didn’t stop the crosses well enough because when they put crosses in the box they’re always dangerous. But we made some fantastic blocks and saves and I’m delighted with the three points.”
United turn their attention to Carabao Cup and FA Cup action in their next two matches. However, they continue their pursuit of the Premier League’s top spot and Liverpool when facing Burnley on January 12.