New coach Erik ten Hag warned that there was still a lot more work to do after Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 3-1 on Tuesday with Anthony Martial scoring his third goal in three pre-season games.
In front of 76,500 fans at Melbourne Cricket Ground, French forward Martial struck in the first half while Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho both collected their second goals of the pre-season tour after the restart.
Joel Ward pulled one back for Palace, but they were always chasing a game that saw United reduced to 10 men in the dying minutes after Will Fish was sent off for a deliberate foul.
Another sour note was the reaction of some fans to Harry Maguire, with suggestions that the United skipper was the target of boos.
But it was a mostly positive evening, the friendly victory Ten Hag’s third since taking over after their 4-0 thumping of Liverpool in Bangkok and a 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory.
In contrast, it was a second straight defeat for Patrick Vieira’s young Palace side, who crashed 2-0 to Liverpool in Singapore on Friday.
“We are happy with the improvement we are seeing, but there is also a lot of work to do,” said Ten Hag. “We did score some wonderful goals, that’s true.
“We played well and I think the belief is increasing,” he added while praising his forwards in particular.
“They did a lot of running, a lot of work. They have a lot of energy and were rewarded by scoring goals.”
The Dutchman is beginning to stamp his mark on the Old Trafford side, with his team – who finished a disappointing sixth last season in the Premier League – producing some fluid, one-touch football.
Goalkeeper David de Gea returned after missing the Victory game with a niggle.
New left-back Tyrell Malacia began ahead of Luke Shaw, while Rashford was back in the starting line-up after scoring as a substitute against Victory, partnering a rejuvenated Martial and Sancho in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence.
Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, Ten Hag’s other new signings, are not in Australia.
Vieira has a youthful squad in Australia, with a number of senior players not making the trip.
United made a confident start, dominating early possession, with Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland making a fine stop from Martial after Brazilian Fred’s pass split the defence.
But the save ended Butland’s game, forcing him to leave the pitch after treatment on his hand.
The 26-year-old Martial – whose career at United looked over after spending the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla – got the breakthrough seven minutes later.
He chested down a wonderful floating delivery from Diogo Dalot to fire past Palace’s third-choice keeper Remi Matthews after a well-worked build-up.
United were hungry for goals, creating plenty of opportunities with Maguire and Rashford both going close.
Against Liverpool and Victory, Ten Hag made wholesale changes at half-time, but this time he made just one, with Donny van de Beek on for Scott McTominay.
Van de Beek was involved in the second goal, with a sublime team move finished by Rashford tapping into an empty net.
Sancho got the third soon after on a counter-attack with Martial providing the through ball.
United head to Perth next to play Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa, who beat Leeds 1-0 to kickstart their pre-season. Palace also travel to Perth, to face Leeds.