You could hear the eruption of noise reverberate around Old Trafford as Liverpool’s defenders stood shell-shocked.
Anthony Martial had introduced himself to the footballing world in a style synonymous with that of George Best, Ryan Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo, a lightning-quick burst of acceleration to dumfound Martin Škrtel, packaged with the finish to match.
The comparisons with Thierry Henry started to fly across social media while the commentary from Martin Tyler at Sky Sports fitted nicely: ‘Welcome to Manchester United, Anthony Martial.’
Those days are a distant memory. Two years ago Martial had become United’s poster boy but now struggles to perform when he starts a game, his best performances this season, after all, have come from the bench.
Against Burton Albion, in the third round of the Carabao Cup, he was given a chance to stake his place amid fierce competition from a squad hungry to impress Jose Mourinho, the manager’s coaching staff, and the fans.
Starting out on the left of a three, in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Marcus Rashford placed as the lone striker, Martial was given the freedom of Manchester to take on Burton’s defence at every opportunity.
Throughout the match, the Frenchman either cutting inside to lay the ball off to Juan Mata in the number ten role or racing down the outside flank to cross the ball into the box.
Early on United had eased to a two-goal lead after Rashford found the back of the net twice, his fourth brace for the club. But there was always a sense that when Martial picked up the ball something special would occur.
And in the first half, he was denied not once but twice by Burton goalkeeper Connor Ripley, while also seeing an overhead kick attempt blocked by right back Tom Naylor.
Martial’s experimentation with flicks and tricks continued to dazzle the home crowd, and it was not a surprise to see him use them to United’s full advantage in the 36th minute.
Through his tenacious perseverance, he won the ball back just outside Burton’s box, his bursting run combined with a left-footed pass after shaping his right foot up instead, finding Jesse Lingard whose deflected effort nestled into the net.
Burton had no answer. It was more when than if Martial would add his name to the score-sheet and he did so on the hour mark, after racing clear of his marker to latch onto Rashford’s flick-on, having the presence of mind to slot in his fourth goal of the season.
Martial’s ten dribbles in the match personified a player willing to take on the opposition directly at full throttle. And if anyone deserves a ’10’ rating, it’s him.