Antonio Valencia produced a superb performance during Manchester United’s first leg 1-1 draw with Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-final on Thursday night.
The Ecuadorian rested against Everton and Sunderland, came back into the starting XI for the trip to Belgium and delivered his usual supply of power and discipline on the right-hand side.
His pin-point cross in the 36th minute set up Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal, with Marcus Rashford‘s drive falling perfectly for the Armenian to tap in from close range.
Valencia’s numbers from the game shed light on what was another powerful, more or less faultless display.
Antonio Valencia's game by numbers vs. Anderlecht:
97% pass accuracy
2 aerial duels won
2 tackles won
2 crosses pic.twitter.com/WDmpn0p1ez
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 13, 2017
The 31-year-old, amid the chaos and ambiguity that has been Jose Mourinho‘s first season at Old Trafford, has started to morph into something of an incongruous figure. Every other player has either dipped in form, suffered an injury, displayed only flashes of brilliance or just suddenly disappeared from the side.
Valencia, it seems, is the only player in this current side who can say that, from day one, he hasn’t encountered even a slight drop in efficacy.
His performance against Anderlecht serves as yet another example: direct, confident, unceasingly powerful and disciplined from start to finish, complimented by a series of sensational last-ditch tackles and a potentially tie-deciding assist.