Anthony Martial scored Manchester United’s first Premier League hat-trick for over seven years as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men eased past Sheffield United at Old Trafford.
Robin van Persie was the last United player to score a treble in the league.
And while there was nothing to compare with the Dutchman’s brilliant volley against Aston Villa that helped seal the 13th and final title of Sir Alex Ferguson’s illustrious reign, Martial did complete his own milestone with a delightful chipped finish over Simon Moore after collecting Marcus Rashford’s return pass.
The result moves United to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea, who entertain Manchester City on Thursday.
However, for Chris Wilder’s visitors it was another disappointing day. The Blades have now picked up just one point from three games since the resumption and are yet to score.
Martial benefiting from Fernandes’ arrival
United’s decision to sell Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan in August and not buy a replacement has been a talking point for most of the season.
And for most of the campaign, it looked like a poor move.
But, just as United’s fortunes have changed markedly since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January, so Martial has profited too.
In seven league games since Fernandes arrived from Sporting Lisbon for £47m, Martial has scored six goals.
He now has 19 for the campaign – his best return in five years at Old Trafford. And while he has a bit to do before he matches Lukaku’s 27 goals from two seasons ago, it is three more than the Belgian managed last term.
Even more satisfying for Solskjaer, the striker’s first-half strikes were exactly the kinds of goals he has been imploring him to score.
Both were runs to the near post, the first took him a bit nearer to the goal than the second. But on each occasion, Martial found the net with a clinical first-time finish to convert low crosses from Rashford.
Martial is not known for his smiling but even he managed one after scoring his third, after previously scoring twice in a game for United five times in five years.
However, to put it into context, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has scored 11 on his own since United’s last two.