2016-17 Premier League: Under-pressure Martial does the star turn as Man United boost top four hopes

Anthony Martial Wayne Rooney Manchester United
Getty Images
Martial and Rooney, two forwards not having the best of seasons, grabbed their opportunities with both hands as Burnley were vanquished in Turf Moor

Man United Burnley Post Match Webemobile ifographic Anthony Martial, after a brilliant start to life under Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford last season, has had a frustrating season this time around under Jose Mourinho, often struggling to become a regular starter. 

But on Sunday against Burnley, he was called upon by his manager to lead United's forward line in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's absence and the Frenchman delivered what was expected of him as United cruised to a 2-0 win at Turf Moor. 

In what was an afternoon of positives, Manchester United scored their first ever goal at Turf Moor in 40 years while club captain Wayne Rooney also added his name on the scoresheet as the Red Devils extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 23 games, the longest unbeaten run by a Premier League team within a single season since 2010-11 (which was also set by Manchester United). 

More importantly, the three points significantly improved United's chances of finishing in the top four with Manchester City, who are fourth, only a single point ahead of them as of now while Liverpool, in third, are just three points in front, having played two games more than Mourinho's men. 

Goal 50 Revealed: The best 50 players in the world

Jose Mourinho might have made eight changes to the team that beat Anderlecht in Europa League last Thursday, but it did not tell as United began the game with intensity. United's pace up front told soon enough as they surged into the lead on the back of a brilliant counter-attack with Ander Herrera breaking down the right. 

Man United Burnley Post Match Webemobile ifographic

The Spaniard's square ball to Martial was perfect as the Frenchman took a delightful touch before slotting it past Tom Heaton, a thorn in United's side in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford. It was Herrera's sixth assist this season, underlining his value to Mourinho's team. 

Anthony Martial, though, would go on to fashion United's second goal which came before the first half ended as well. He collected Pogba's neat pass and saw his shot squirm under Heaton from a tight angle but Wayne Rooney was on hand to divert it in. United's all-time record goalscorer enjoyed the moment which came after a lot of time was dedicated to speculations over his Old Trafford future. 

Article continues below

Interestingly, that goal meant that only Alan Shearer (190) has scored in more different Premier League games than Wayne Rooney (149 – level with Frank Lampard & Andrew Cole).

As United saw the game off comfortably, Eric Bailly and the defence also did their job against the Burnley attack, helping the team keep yet another clean sheet which meant United have conceded just five Premier League goals in 2017. 

The Red Devils barely broke sweat in the second half, conserving their energy ahead of taxing encounters, but gained three points - which are as vital as any they might win before the end of the season.