Manchester United whizkid Joe Hugill seized his opportunity in the Red Devils first pre-season friendly of 2023.

A lack of available strikers handed Erik ten Hag a real conundrum as the club kicked off the summer.

It led to Jadon Sancho starting up front in an unfamiliar role, before academy talent Joe Hugill was introduced in the second half.

Hugill took his chance, scoring Manchester United’s second goal after being put through by winger Noam Emeran.

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Manchester United v Leeds United - Pre-Season Friendly
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Joe Hugill praised

We looked at Joe Hugill’s goalscoring prowess in the build-up to the game, with the striker netting 46 goals in 80 academy games.

The former Sunderland prospect joined Manchester United in 2020, and has been a real force in academy football, with his progress only stunted by injuries.

He featured as a substitute in a couple of previous friendly games, most recently against Real Betis in December, and barely got a kick.

This time it was different against a weaker Leeds side, with his young United teammates able to create goalscoring opportunities for him. Hugill pounced on one, striking the assist from Noam Emeran into the bottom corner.

It does not look particularly likely Manchester United will have another strike on board by time the team face Lyon in pre-season next week, and Hugill will get another 45 minutes.

The friendly match showed how United’s squad is packed with talent, but Hugill was the one the club needed to step up more than most, and he thankfully obliged.

Teammate praise

Joe Hugill posted to Instagram after the win, writing: “What a feeling, first goal for @manchesterunited Great start to pre season.”

His teammates were full of praise, with his academy colleagues replying to commend him on making an impact.

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