Anthony Martial continued his remarkable start to his Manchester Untied career, coming off the bench to score late on and secure his side a 3-0 victory over Ipswich Town at Old Trafford in the third round of the Capital One Cup. It was a match that for the most part offered little in the way of fireworks, but the three decisive moments will have been particularly pleasing to United manager Louis van Gaal and the watching fans.
The first goal came from Wayne Rooney as he took Daley Blind’s fine long pass into his stride before coolly scoring in just his second game of this season. The highlight of the contest, though, arguably belonged to a player at the other end of the experience scale. Making his first ever Manchester United start, 19-year-old Andreas Pereira caught the eye with a wonderfully taken free-kick into the back of the net on the hour mark. All that was left was for Martial, only on the pitch from the 70th minute, to make it four goals in as many games since Manchester Untied made him the world’s most expensive teenager in history.
By the time Martial supplied the injury-time strike, a victory that, in truth, never really looked in doubt had already been long confirmed. Yet Louis van Gaal did have reason for trepidation entering the third-round fixture against an Ipswich side lying fifth in the Championship. For one, he was going up against a manager who had been responsible for arguably the lowest point of Van Gaal’s distinguished coaching career. It was Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland team that beat Van Gaal’s Netherlands 14 years ago to effectively end Dutch hopes of reaching the 2002 World Cup.
There was also the fact that Van Gaal’s only previous experience of the League Cup had seen him oversee a stunning 4-0 humbling against Milton Keynes Dons in last year’s second round. But a similar story never looked on the cards this time around. McCarthy had been clear ahead of the match that his priorities lay with Ipswich’s promotion chase in the Championship and his side put up little resistance as the greater quality of an experienced United side was allowed to shine through.
Van Gaal made just the comparatively few six changes to the team that beat Southampton 3-2 on Sunday. And the presence of David de Gea, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Rooney showed that United’s coach was taking their participation in England’s secondary cup competition seriously.
It took just until the midway point of the opening half for the hosts to go in front. Blind showed the passing quality out of the back that Van Gaal so reveres to perfectly find the boot of Rooney running through the middle. After equal parts skill and brawn to get past the last defender, the forward slotted home to add to the hat-trick he fired against Club Brugge.
The closest Ipswich could come to a response before the interval was a 20-yard effort from Tommy Oar that briefly had De Gea worried before it traveled wide of right-hand post. To their credit, early in the second half McCarthy’s men upped the tempo of a match that for periods was played at almost walking pace. Again, though, any real attacking threat eluded them.
And Pereira soon displayed the quality they had been missing. The Brazilian had impressed on Manchester United’s preseason tour of the United States, but his competitive action for the club before Wednesday had been limited to less than an hour. Still, he showed that he could have a bright future ahead of him by curling past Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
It would be another 19-year-old who had the last word. In the second minute of time added on, Memphis chested on Schweinsteiger’s ball forward and once more the former Monaco starlet showed a nerveless touch in front of goal.