Man United took the lead through Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the first half but lost their impetus after the break, leading to Jose Mourinho sending on Martial with 30 minutes left.
And he wasted no time going for the Serie A side’s jugular, pestering their back four with a series of piercing runs and ultimately providing a smart assist for Mata to grab the winner.
Speaking to MUTV after the game, Mata was quick to emphasise the importance of the 21-year-old to Mourinho’s set-up going forward.
“That’s ideal for players like me as we try to look for passes for the quickest players,” he said.
“We all know how good Anthony [Martial] is when one-on-one with a defender, so I just tried to put myself in a good situation to finish. It was an important goal because we won.”
Martial would, I imagine, be a frustrating player to have as a teammate on occasions. His level of raw talent on the ball eclipses most players in the squad, but so does his capacity for drifting out of games, seemingly on the periphery.
But when the Frenchman, perhaps in response to recent talks of being loaned to Inter Milan in exchange for Ivan Perisic, gets his head down and enters that unmistakeable groove of perpetual harassment of right-backs, hallmarked by optimal close control and sort of ferocious pace that cuts in diagonally and leaves defenders twisted, there surely aren’t many better players to have alongside you.