Cape Town - Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
hailed Odion Ighalo as a "natural striker" after he netted his first
goal in the Europa League win over Club Brugge.
With Anthony Martial missing out through injury, Ighalo was
given his first start since his surprise loan move from Shanghai Shenhua last
The 30-year-old responded with a goal in the first half and
led the line well as United eased to a 5-0 victory against 10-man opposition to
go through to the last 16 6-1 on aggregate.
Solskjaer said: "I'm very happy with the contribution
of Odion, doing what he does. He's a target man, we can play up to him, he'll
hold it, he's got Juan (Mata) and Bruno (Fernandes) next to him and you've got
"I think as a fellow striker I know how important that
first goal is. He's been close a couple of times; you can see he sniffs goals.
He wants to be there where it sometimes hurts. That goal, he's sharp in his
head. That's a natural striker."
Ighalo's fellow January recruit Fernandes showed again what an
exciting signing he is, scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot after a
spectacular handball from defender Simon Deli, who was sent off.
The Portuguese then played a crucial role in the second for
Ighalo before Scott McTominay, making a welcome return to the starting line-up
after injury, grabbed a third before half-time.
Two late goals from Fred emphasised United's superiority,
and Solskjaer was understandably buoyant as he reflected on the performance.
The Norwegian said: "I'm very happy tonight. Obviously,
we're in a moment now that we rotate a bit, players are getting games, but,
when you score goals and play like this, you're going to get more confidence.
"It was brilliant to see the start of the game, I
thought they had the right intent, created loads of chances, and, when they go
down to 10 men, of course, the game was more or less over."
Fernandes has had a huge impact since his move from Sporting
Lisbon, and Solskjaer said: "Bruno coming in obviously makes a big, big
difference. You can see he's got a hand in all the three first goals. What a
pass, what a goal Odion's goal was."
Two goals for Fred was another big positive for United, with
the Brazilian finding the net for United for the first time since September
"I wasn't sure if I was going to be alive the next time,
he was going to score a goal because he's had so many attempts," said
Solskjaer with a smile.
"But one with his right, one with his left. It's been
an ongoing joke between us of course, but he got that goal and I'm very pleased
The only bad news was a thigh injury for Martial that ruled
him out of the squad.
Solskjaer is waiting to find out whether the forward could
be available against Everton on Sunday, saying: "He went off training yesterday,
just had treatment. He tried today, he reported, had a fitness test this
- TEAMtalk media