Jadon Sancho was selected to start for Manchester United in Tuesday night’s crucial Champions League fixture away at Villarreal.
It was a show of faith from caretaker boss Michael Carrick, who trusted Sancho to play a key role on both sides of the ball in a tricky away fixture.
Villarreal were as always, tricky opponents, who gave away little space for United’s attackers.
Positive moments for United were few and far between, and yet, when they did, Sancho was frequently involved.
The former Dortmund winger was praised by ex-Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves, a pundit in the BT Sport studio.
Hargeaves said: “Jadon looks good, Jadon looks sharp, like something can happen any time he gets it.
“Jadon was the best player on the pitch, the player we saw at Dortmund at times, who can win a game.”
Sancho came close to breaking the deadlock in the 70th minute at El Madrigal, playing a one-two with Bruno Fernandes before seeing his shot saved by Geronimo Rulli’s outstretched foot.
He finally got his first Manchester United goal in the 89th minute, lashing in a fierce strike in off the underside of the crossbar after a slick team move.
Sancho shows positive signs
Sancho looked bright and grew in confidence as the game progressed. It was one of the first times he has shown real personality in a Manchester United shirt with his play.
He was confident cutting inside and finding a teammate, and willing to put in a cross where required.
Part of what made Sancho really impress was his work off the ball. He pushed up to press Villarreal, maintained the team shape, and worked hard to get back and help out Aaron Wan-Bissaka defensively.
We all know there is so much more to come from Jadon Sancho in a United shirt, and it feels like we are tantalisingly close to seeing him really kick on and take his game to the next level.
This first goal will do him the world of good, and Sancho’s confidence will go up a notch after hitting the back of the net.
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