Andreas Pereira produced his most notable performance in a Manchester United shirt to date against Southampton on Saturday.
The Brazilian looked lost at the base of midfield during a frustrating first half for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side.
Moved further forward in the second half, something magnificent happened: Pereira suddenly became the skillful, thrilling, fluid player supporters have yearned to see. He scored his first Premier League goal, curling home an exquisite equaliser from outside the box, before supplying a clever assist for Romelu Lukaku. It was exactly what his performance deserved.
Pereira’s stats from the game give an indication of the way he dazzled supporters as Man United relentlessly attacked the Stretford End in the second half.
Andreas Pereira’s game by numbers vs. Southampton:
77% pass accuracy
11 final third passes
6 ball recoveries
2 fouls suffered
An absolute ???? of a first PL goal. ???? pic.twitter.com/GzUzUMBkRF
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 2, 2019
This was Pereira’s most notable performance at Man United to date because of much more than his splendid goal.
Moved into more of a No.8 role and duty-bound to surge forward, Pereira found what can only be described as the groove.
In previous performances, Pereira was functional, occasionally aesthetically pleasing, but ultimately without much personality. It still felt like he was a guest, rather than member, of this senior team.
Against Southampton, though, the Brazilian gave us everything, warts and all. The flair, the passion, the intelligence, the confidence, the thrills and spills. It was as if he broke through a barrier of some kind, and suddenly felt confident enough to tell us all his secrets.
It was a beautiful moment. Cathartic, even. Pereira will need to take that attitude to Paris, where he is likely to start.