'Magnificent footballer' - Ten Hag 'proud' of Sancho for ending Man Utd goal duck after 'difficult period'
- Red Devils trailed by two goals against Leeds
- Hit back to take a point
- England winger on target off the bench
WHAT HAPPENED? The Red Devils needed inspiration from somewhere during their latest Premier League outing at Old Trafford, with an uncharacteristically sloppy showing seeing them concede after 55 seconds and trail by two goals early in the second half. The in-form Marcus Rashford halved that deficit just past the hour mark, with Sancho – who is being eased back after being exiled for three months – stepping off the bench to grab what proved to be an important equaliser 20 minutes from the end.
WHAT THEY SAID: Ten Hag told Sky Sports of seeing Sancho, who he forced to train away from the first-team group at one stage, register his first league goal since September 1: “I am happy. He is all the way back. We know he is a magnificent football player and he can definitely be, for our team, a big impact. Tonight, he had [that]. I think he can be consistent and have a great impact. But he has to work, every day, really hard, as we all [must]. In this moment, he is in a good mood. I think it will strengthen him, it will motivate him to even give more and then you will see you will get more. Of course, like I said, he is a brilliant footballer and the second goal, I really enjoyed it, especially for him.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Sancho has endured a tough time in the 2022-23 campaign, with an individual training programme set for him during the World Cup break, but Ten Hag added on seeing the 22-year-old rediscover his spark: “I am pleased and proud he did it. It is clear it is a difficult period but he finds himself out and he needs credit for that. He is a brilliant footballer and if he can invest in the right levels he can be outstanding. I will back him, the coaches will and the team will but finally he has to do it himself. It is in his own hands. If he wants, he can do. We now have a team that can play in the opponents' half. He likes that. He can play in tight areas. At this moment he is in a good mood and it will strengthen him, it will motivate him to give more. He is in the right direction and if he keeps going with that process he can do even more to really help us to achieve our goals.”
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WHAT NEXT? Sancho joined United from Borussia Dortmund for £75 million($91m) in the summer of 2021 and has only recorded nine goals through 54 appearances, but his most recent strike will have restored some lost confidence and ensured that the Red Devils did not come unstuck heading into another meeting with Leeds on Sunday.