Manchester United defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford on Monday evening, recording their first victory under Erik ten Hag.
Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford’s goals on either side of halftime gave the Reds a two-goal lead until Liverpool pulled one back late on with a Mohamed Salah header. It was little more than what United deserved, with their performance being their best in months.
United made it their objective from the start to set a high tempo and continuously press Liverpool. Ten Hag’s gutsy decision to make four changes to his starting lineup paid off handsomely.
One of his four substitutions saw club captain Harry Maguire drop to the bench, giving Raphael Varane his first start of the season. He partnered with Lisandro Martinez at center-back, and the pair put forth superb performances to help United keep a star-studded Liverpool front-three at bay.
Many people were surprised by Martinez’s inclusion. Just nine days previously, the summer signing from Ajax had a dreadful evening at Brentford, which resulted in him being pulled off at half-time.
Ten Hag, who was determined to reunite with the 24-year-old at Old Trafford this summer, remained optimistic and gave him a third consecutive start. It was a decision that was thoroughly vindicated when the final whistle blew, as the Argentine international put up a spectacular performance that earned him a plethora of well-deserved acclaim.
Martinez is a player who plays with his heart on his sleeve and exudes unrivaled passion and commitment. He couldn’t help but release it all after the final whistle on Monday evening, emphasizing how much the triumph meant to him.
Martinez went to his knees after referee Michael Oliver blew his final whistle, repeatedly punching the turf, releasing all of his inner energy and passion before getting up and celebrating. Every United fan wants to see his enthusiasm and energy from the players, whose attitude has come under fire in recent months.
Despite his troubles against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford, Martinez demonstrated everything a United fan could want versus Liverpool: fight, energy, commitment, and a willingness to give everything on the field. It was a performance that, if he continues in this vein, will make him a fan favorite.
He has a fiery personality, and his performance against Liverpool demonstrated why he was dubbed the “Butcher of Amsterdam” while at Ajax. His full-time celebrations demonstrated how determined he is to succeed at United.