It’s been a while since Jesse Lingard was able to give anybody reason to smile on the football pitch. Last night he made the most of a late opportunity.

Lingard came off the bench along with Anthony Elanga against Aston Villa and showed a little joy during his late cameo.

Manchester United v Aston Villa: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Receiving the ball in the corner as the game entered injury time, Lingard shielded and shimmied before turning away from two Aston Villa defenders and retained the ball, passing it on.

The United star was clearly happy with the moment, posting a short video clip to his Instagram page after the victory.

Lingard’s moment drew an excited response from teammate Amad, who was on the bench against Villa. The youngster dubbed him ‘Lingardinho’ in ode to Brazilian maestro Ronaldinho.

Playing his way into contention

Lingard wasted his chance to impress in the Champions League when he started under Ralf Rangnick against Young Boys and has paid the price ever since.

He has had to make to do with late substitute appearances or none at all, not helped by his uncertain contract situation.

While his long term future remains as unclear as ever, and he probably will leave, his brief appearance last night showed a player with the right attitude who wants to play and enjoy his football.

United could do with a few of those right now, with Marcus Rashford playing like he is not enjoying much at all.

With tricky games upcoming against Villa and then Lingard’s former side West Ham, it could be time for the midfielder to come back into focus for a second chance under Rangnick.

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