Anthony Martial scored twice as Manchester United came from behind to hammer Newcastle United and move four points off a Champions League place in the table.
Martial cancelled out teenager Matty Longstaff’s opener for Newcastle with a near-post finish before a deflected shot from outside the penalty area by 18-year-old Mason Greenwood went in off the bar.
Marcus Rashford extended Manchester United’s lead further with a header – his 11th Premier League goal of the season – before Martial added the fourth.
The France forward went close to becoming the first Manchester United player to score a Premier League hat-trick since 2013 when his low shot hit a post.
If there is one player who symbolises the erratic nature of Manchester United just now, it is Martial.
Occasional flashes of genuine brilliance and some decent overall performances are mixed with others so lacking in purpose it must make executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward wonder whether he was right to resist Jose Mourinho’s willingness to sell the Frenchman at the beginning of last season.
Even today, at half-time, one very knowledgeable and experienced United observer continued to state his belief the club would be better off without Martial, despite the fact he had scored.
After the break, Martial’s second, a fine finish over Martin Dubravka after a woeful Sean Longstaff back-pass had sent him clean though, represented only the fourth time he had scored more than once for United in the league since he was signed by Louis van Gaal in 2015.
He remains a crowd favourite and the ovation he received as he made his way to the dressing room after being replaced by Juan Mata midway through the second half was impressive.
It remains the case that until Martial’s goal output improves, he will not be delivering what United require. His tally of nine goals for the season so far is only three short of his best return since his debut campaign, when he scored 17.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “We’re not going to see the best of Mason [Greenwood] for a couple of years. He’s learning, growing as a human being, he’ll grow more and more.
“Marcus [Rashford] sprung on the scene the same age and you see more maturity in his game.
“You saw the intent straight away. Newcastle made mistakes but we made them make them by pressing and we made it hard for them.”