Manchester United came away with a 1-1 draw against CSKA Moscow in Russia last night in the Champions League in a game where they came back from a goal down in the first half to secure a valuable point away from home. The result leaves United in third on the table with two of their last three remaining games at Old Trafford.
Anthony Martial had a say in both the goals last night; the young Frenchman’s naivety in handling the ball which led to the penalty which eventually led to the CSKA goal in the first half was described as a “stupid reaction” by manager Louis van Gaal, who handed Martial his third consecutive Champions League start.
“It was a stupid reaction of Anthony [Martial, to give CSKA a penalty], but before that maybe it was offside. From the bench I thought it was, but I don’t know. It’s the first time he’s done it and there always has to be a first time! [Laughs] But for us it was very unlucky because I think we controlled the game,” said Van Gaal in his post-match press conference.
Control they had in the game, as the Red Devils enjoyed 72 percent ball possession but failed to translate their dominance on the ball into meaningful chances. United had only seven shots on goal compared to CSKA’s six, but one of those came from Martial in the 65th minute after some right-sided interplay isolated right-back Antonio Valencia, who found Martial with a pin-point cross.
And Van Gaal picked out goalscorer Martial for special praise after the game, and talked up the consistent level at which he operates. Martial has now scored five goals in all competitions for the Red Devils since his summer move to Manchester.
“Yes of course! [Smiles] He was playing again with a lot of threat to the opponent and he always plays at a certain level, he’s very consistent. For a 19-year-old boy I like that,” Van Gaal added, when asked about whether he had forgiven Martial for the initial mistake.
With Manchester City the visitors to Old Trafford on the weekend, United were saved the blushes by Martial once again after the goal they gave away was also of Martial’s making. With Van Gaal’s main striker recovering his confidence after an early blow, it will only bode well for the side ahead of Sunday’s derby.