Alejandro Garnacho – a star in the making?
– I don’t know if it’s reality or I’m dreaming.
That was the reaction of 18-year-old Alejandro Garnach after making his debut for Manchester United against Sheriff Tiraspol last week.
The teenager received a standing ovation from most of those inside Old Trafford when he was substituted late on in the 3-0 win. Seven days later, it will be even harder for the United fans who traveled to watch Real Sociedad to hide their excitement.
Although Garnach’s winning goal in San Sebastian was not enough for United to win their Europa League group, the young Argentine produced another promising performance in his second senior start – against much better opposition.
His expert control and fine finish in the 17th minute illustrated his quality in the final third, while his confidence in possession, willingness to strike opponents and unpredictable skills gave United a different dimension down the stretch.
“I’m really happy and I hope he can continue like that,” Ten Hag said of Garnach, who is now the club’s youngest non-English goalscorer in European competitions.
He may be a raw talent, but early signs suggest he has the potential to become a world-class winger. Under Ten Hag’s leadership, such an outcome is a distinct possibility.
Vieira impresses but Tomiyasu adds to his injury problems
Takehiro Tomiyasu pulled his shirt over his head in frustration. The Japanese full-back was a late substitute for Arsenal in an embarrassing game against Zurich but did not last long on the pitch, being replaced by Cedric Soares with a muscle injury, adding to the concerns now facing manager Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal are top of the Premier League and hold on to top spot in the Europa League, but their squad is now stretched thin. For much of this opening stretch of the season, the Spaniard has had a starting XI you could almost recite by heart, but after making seven changes ahead of Sunday’s crucial London derby, he was once again left picking up the walking wounded for Chelsea.
The return of Bukaya Saka for a cameo in the second half was as welcome as it was necessary, given how Arsenal struggled and failed to put a stubborn but limited Zurich to bed. Tierney’s goal was a beauty and worth winning any game, and Arteta will be most excited to avoid two extra games in the play-offs.
Fabio Vieira impressed in the first period and should probably have extended Arsenal’s lead, with his three strikes producing a best xG of 0.35. He also completed three key passes and had five touches in the Zurich box.
In defense, he won the ball three times, once in the last third. The Portuguese was involved in eight Topnik attempts tonight (4 shots, 4 chances created). It was a comprehensive display that will give Arteta hope that there is depth to compete on multiple fronts once the season resumes after the World Cup.
A special evening for West Ham’s academy
There was literally nothing to play for in Bucharest on Thursday night, neither for West Ham nor for FCSB.
The Hammers were secured first, while the hosts could do no better than the last.
But David Moyes’ inclusion of two teenage debutants, Divino Mubame and Oliver Scarles, injected much-needed life into the game.
The sheer ecstasy on 18-year-old Mubama’s face when his deflected header hit the post painted a picture of what it meant to him to score for his boyhood club. Even if UEFA later revoked it, awarding it as an own goal.
The forward, who joined the club as a left-back at the age of eight, was not alone in impressing.
Sixteen-year-old Scarles also stood out with his play at left-back and almost set up Mubami for a goal that would indeed have been created in East London.
He had an insatiable desire to work for the team and possessed a wicked left foot. Scarles was a constant threat at left-back and was close to scoring.
With five substitutes brought in, West Ham fielded nine graduates against FCSB. The future looks bright for the Hammers.