Once an accident, twice a coincidence, three times a pattern. Many a promising talent has walked onto the pitch for Manchester United. However, only some have been able to inspire in quite the same fashion as Alejandro Garnacho.
The young No. 49 has delivered repeat heroics with an air of confidence beyond his years, time and time again this season.
Athletic’s Carl Anka has offered a shining yet accurate breakdown of the starlet’s latest feat – an extra-time winner.
The youth academy produces again
Anka writes, “The match clock read 92:05 when Alejandro Garnacho steered the ball past Bernd Leno.”
According to the journalist, Garnacho’s goal makes him the youngest player to score a stoppage-time winner in the Premier League. While he scored for United’s senior team in the Europa League, this is his first in the Premier League.
The previous holder of this accolade was also a United player – Federico Macheda, who scored against Aston Villa in April 2009.
The goal put the United faithful’s worries to rest after one-way traffic from the home side. The 2-1 win over Fulham means that United finished the first half of the season in fifth, three points shy of a Champions League spot. Top-flight football now takes a break as it makes way for the World Cup in Qatar.
Anka notes that Garnacho is “a frightening prospect for opposition players and fans.”
Yet Garnacho’s ability to force full-backs to backtrack and make difficult decisions makes him a valued additional weapon to his team’s attack.
Garnacho’s first Premier League goal
The rising star’s winner came from Christian Eriksen’s keen eye. He picked Garnacho out on the left wing, who drove the ball inside before returning the ball to Eriksen. The goal-hungry youngster then continued to run into the penalty area.
As Anka reports, Garnacho’s attacking ambition was a crucial component of this goal, as was Eriksen’s perfectly weighted ball. As magnificent as Eriksen’s pass was, the United winger still had to show a clean pair of heels to two defenders before steering the ball into the far corner of the goal. Fulham’s keeper was left helpless to watch as the ball rolled into the back of the net, and Craven Cottage’s fans were left to stew in what could have been.
Building for the future
The youth academy product has been a welcome addition to the team Erik ten Hag is building. This Red Devils side has shown grit, hunger, and camaraderie reminiscent of old United sides. There is still much work to be done before United can be Premier League title contenders, but the foundation has been set.
Anka writes, and rightly so, “Ten Hag’s team might just be going places.”
Ten Hag doubters might have to eat humble pie if Manchester United can keep this momentum after the 6-week break.
The next test for Ten Hag’s men will be at Old Trafford against Nottingham Forest on 27 December 2022.