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Martial scores again as United beat Palace 3-1 in Melbourne

MELBOURNE (AFP) – New coach Erik ten Hag said his players’ belief was improving after Anthony Martial scored his third goal in three games as a slick Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 3-1 yesterday.

In front of 76,500 fans at Melbourne Cricket Ground, French forward Martial struck in the first half while Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho both collected their second goals of the pre-season tour after the restart.

Joel Ward pulled one back for Palace, but they were always chasing a game that saw United reduced to 10 men in the dying minutes after Will Fish was sent off for a deliberate foul.

The friendly victory was Ten Hag’s third since taking over after their 4-0 thumping of Liverpool in Bangkok and a 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory.

In contrast, it was a second straight defeat for Patrick Vieira’s Palace side, who crashed 2-0 to Liverpool in Singapore last Friday.

“We are happy with the improvement we are seeing, but there is also a lot of work to do,” said Ten Hag. “We did score some wonderful goals, that’s true.”

Manchester United proved too good for Crystal Palace in Melbourne. PHOTO: AFP
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes argues with Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew Martin. PHOTO: AFP

The Dutchman is beginning to stamp his mark on the Old Trafford side, with his team – who finished a disappointing sixth last season in the Premier League – producing some fluid, one-touch football.

Goalkeeper David de Gea returned after missing the Victory game with a niggle.

New left-back Tyrell Malacia began ahead of Luke Shaw, while Rashford was back in the starting line-up after scoring as a substitute against Victory, partnering a rejuvenated Martial and Sancho in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence.

Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, Ten Hag’s other new signings, are not in Australia.

Vieira has a youthful squad in Australia, with a number of senior players not making the trip.

United made a confident start, dominating early possession, with Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland making a fine stop from Martial after Brazilian Fred’s pass split the defence.

But the save ended Butland’s game, forcing him to leave the pitch after treatment on his hand.

The 26-year-old Martial – whose career at United looked over after spending the end of last season on loan at Sevilla – got the breakthrough seven minutes later.

He chested down a wonderful floating delivery from Diogo Dalot to fire past Palace’s third-choice keeper Remi Matthews after a well-worked build-up.

United were hungry for goals, creating plenty of opportunities with Harry Maguire and Rashford both going close.

Against Liverpool and Victory, Ten Hag made wholesale changes at half-time, but this time he made just one, with Donny van de Beek on for Scott McTominay.

Van de Beek was involved in the second goal, with a sublime team move finished by Rashford tapping into an empty net.

Sancho got the third soon after on a counter-attack with Martial providing the through ball.