Greenwood seals Man Utd win over Brighton but Solskjaer says don’t judge teenager by his goals

BBC

5th April, 2021 09:42:34 printer

Greenwood seals Man Utd win over Brighton but Solskjaer says don’t judge teenager by his goals

Mason Greenwood should not be judged purely on his goal scoring, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the teenager's effort completed a comeback victory over Brighton.

The 19-year-old headed in his first Premier League goal at Old Trafford this season after Paul Pogba's volley had bounced into the ground.

It was his first in the league since May 2020 and his sixth goal in 40 appearances in all competitions this season, a campaign which started with him being sent home from an England camp after breaching Covid guidelines.

"When he gets those goals, we know he's going to add another dimension to his game," said Solskjaer, who could be without forward Anthony Martial for the rest of the season through injury.

"The world nowadays is so on to stats and this and that.

"The boy has played fantastically [during] the last two or three months and has really come on. If he keeps learning and improving he will score more - he's a lethal finisher."

Brighton took an early lead when former United striker Danny Welbeck reacted quickest after his initial header had been saved, nodding in from close range.

However, not for the first time this season, United improved from a lethargic opening period to sweep to victory in the second.

Marcus Rashford levelled when he opened up his body and rolled an excellent shot into the corner from Bruno Fernandes' lay-off, before Greenwood's winner eight minutes from the end.

The result gives United an 11-point cushion in the battle for a top-four place, although West Ham and Everton could reduce that to eight if they both win their matches in hand.

Eventually, this game may be viewed as being more significant for what happened before it, rather than what occurred in it.

In the build-up, Solskjaer said both his goalkeepers would play matches before the end of the season.

However, the choice of Dean Henderson over David de Gea seemed significant.

Henderson played in six consecutive games immediately prior to the international break after De Gea returned to Spain for the birth of his first child.

Against Brighton, though, there was no reason why De Gea should have been sidelined for any reason other than manager Solskjaer's preference.

It has been obvious for some time the present situation was untenable heading into next season and now United could have the tricky problem of trying to sell their highest earner when every club's finances are being stretched.

That said, Henderson has to justify his place.

No blame could be attached to the England man for Welbeck's goal as he did remarkably well to keep the first effort out.

Spilling a routine cross not long afterwards - requiring the intervention of Harry Maguire to clear the danger - was a worry though.

Henderson was a bystander when Lewis Dunk clipped the bar as Brighton tried to increase their lead but the calm way he dealt with the reduced work he was provided with after the interval offers no obvious reason why Solskjaer should regret his decision.

Welbeck hurts his old club again

It is nearly seven years since Welbeck left Old Trafford for Arsenal in a £16m transfer.

A succession of injuries prevented the 30-year-old from fulfilling the promise he showed in his formative years at United but he has been a regular nuisance to his old club.

Today's effort was his fourth goal against them, all but one of which have come on this ground.

His reaction to score - the first time Brighton had been in front at Old Trafford since 1983 - was impressive and Welbeck was convinced he should have had a penalty in the second half when he was nudged by Maguire as he tried to put Brighton in front again, the ball rolling agonisingly across goal.

Clearly, time moves on. Now it is Greenwood trying to carve out a future for Manchester United and England.

With Martial out, Rashford battling shoulder and knee injuries and Edinson Cavani struggling for form, Greenwood may have to carry United's attack over the final weeks of the season.

He fired a first-time shot against the post early in this contest and while his six goals this season is a long way adrift of last years' tally of 17, the confidence he will gain from this contribution will be welcomed by Solskjaer.


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