SINGAPORE (AFP) – Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised striker Mason Greenwood after the 17-year-old came off the bench to score a brilliant winning goal in a 1-0 friendly victory last Saturday over Inter Milan.
“He’s learning everyday, training with the first team and he’s been with us for the last few months. He has grown in confidence and stature,” Solskjaer told reporters after United secured a third straight pre-season triumph without conceding a goal.
“As I have said before, when you have a player who performs, it’s difficult to keep him out.”
The Premier League side dominated from start to finish and Solskjaer was delighted with a sharp performance that deserved to be rewarded by a bigger margin of victory against a team still finding their feet under new manager Antonio Conte.
“The mindset was really good, we were on the front foot, pressing when we could. High energy and intensity. Maybe we lacked a little quality in the final third due to all the pressing we did,” Solskjaer said after the game in Singapore, in which he used 23 players.
“But when the second 11 came on in the second half, they took us up another level and it was great to see. We could have had two or three more goals to be fair.”
United created several chances in both halves but finally broke down a resolute Inter defence in the 75th minute through a touch of magic from England Under-18 international Greenwood, who has impressed so far in the side’s pre-season tour of Australia and Asia.
Ashley Young whipped in a freekick that goalkeeper Samir Handanovic could only parry straight to Greenwood with the teenage forward calmly controlling the ball before switching it onto his left foot and sending a curling effort into the far corner.
Greenwood almost added a second with a delicate volley in the 80th minute that brushed off the crossbar as he more than lived up to the pre-match billing afforded to him by teammate Marcus Rashford, who believes his fellow striker has all the tools to make it to the very top.
“He is only 17, so we’ll keep his feet firmly on the ground. But up until now, he is enjoying his football,” Solskjaer added.
Solskjaer named a strong lineup with starts for summer recruits Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
His side soon dominated possession in front of a pro-Manchester United National Stadium crowd, moving the ball quickly and pressing their opponents high up the pitch.
However, despite controlling the flow of the contest, United were frustrated by Inter’s stubborn backline, restricted to long-range shots from Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Rashford that either flashed wide or were smothered by Handanovic.
Inter, meanwhile, were sloppy in possession and unable to create any opportunities.