The Manchester United star’s development keeps increasing his worth.
There was a hidden feeling amongst the Manchester United devotees that the Monday night’s one-off quarterfinal tie against Danish runner-ups F.C. Copenhagen would not be as straightforward as it might have seemed first from the neutral perspective.
While comparing the Mancunian club to their Monday night’s oppositions, Manchester United were always going to come out on top with the sublime quality they possess within the roster. But somehow the stakes were high, and it was made even higher with Copenhagen manager Ståle Solbakken claiming that Manchester United and Inter Milan are the two favourites to lift this season’s Europa League.
Under the scorching summer heat and a sweaty condition, the referee finally peeped on his whistle for the kick-off. With the match being a one-legged tie, both teams were looking for a cautious start under the floodlights of Köln.
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The concerns over committing something unneeded that could change the course of the match kept both teams at bay. Though, Manchester United, thanks to the presence of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba at the heart of the midfield, came up with some goal-scoring opportunities that went in vain due to the lack of sharpness and stiff conciseness at the frontline.
Over the first 90 minutes of the match, Manchester United, despite not creating enough or finishing their half-chances, felt the heat of the video assistant referee (VAR) twice. Both times, the involvement of Manchester United’s 18-year-old Mason Greenwood could be spotted.
The first incident happened just before the half-time when Greenwood’s distinctive right-footed finish got denied by VAR for an obvious offside. And at the 57th-minute of the game, it was Greenwood’s left-footed strike that hit the woodwork before the rebound came on the feet of Marcus Rashford, who ultimately sent the ball into the nets but was denied the goal straightaway by VAR for another offside.
Even though it was one of that sort of nights when the ball doesn’t get past goalkeeper no matter how hard a team try, Bruno Fernandes‘ penalty finally helped United break the deadlock in the extra-time of the match. Copenhagen goalkeeper Karl-Johan Anton Johnsson, who had 13 saves on the night — the most by a goalkeeper in a single UEFA Europa League game since 2009 — eventually got beaten from the spot-kick taken by the Portuguese.
One of the positive points from the game Manchester United fans could talk about is the continuing progression in Mason Greenwood’s game. It has been an outstanding breakthrough season for the 18-year-old United’s academy graduate.
Having racked up 17 goals and 5 assist from 52 senior appearances across all competitions this season, Greenwood has become the fourth teenager to score 15 or more goals behind George Best, Brian Kidd, and Wayne Rooney in the first season at the Manchester-based club.
However, Mason Greenwood, speaking to UEFA.com (via Manchester Evening News) before the quarterfinal game, confirmed that he needs to improve his heading quality, with the wonderkid yet to grab a headed goal in his senior outfit. When asked about whether he has any weaker portion in his game which he would love to develop in future, Greenwood answered:
“I think in headed goals. I’ve not scored a headed goal in the first team this season. It would be nice to get one of them before the Europa League finishes.”
Over the lockdown period, Greenwood has added the much-needed muscles to his artillery, meaning he can now put defenders into grounds not only with his tricks and flicks but also with his physical strength. He has also fashioned a tattoo of a wolf on his right arm, signifying his lethal finishing traits and knack for scoring more goals.
The Englishman has already made the right-wing in Solskjaer’s starting lineup his own, having thrown Manchester United’s summer acquisition Daniel James down the pecking order. While his emergence has been a plus point during Solskjaer ongoing stint, it wouldn’t be too wrong to say that Manchester United are only two games away from earning their first major honour since 2017.
Do you think Jadon Sancho’s transfer could hamper Mason Greenwood’s growth?