On a night to savour, Mason Greenwood became Manchester United's youngest scorer in Europe, with a cleverly taken strike against Kazakhstani side FC Astana in the Europa League.
The Old Trafford faithful are pinning a lot of hope on the 17-year-old, who’s expected to sign a new contract when he turns 18, at the beginning of next month.
To say that his short United career has been blessed would be an understatement - Greenwood first featured for the senior team in that remarkable comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes in the Champions League back at the beginning of March.
It was a game with a player literally being thrust into the spotlight so spontaneously that United’s kitman had to use PSG’s numbering and logo for the teenager’s pitch gear. In the French capital, Greenwood acquired the honour of being United’s youngest debutant since Norman Whiteside.
The Bradford-born forward has provoked the gushing acclaim of his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - himself none too shabby in front of goal in his pomp.
The gaffer’s faith has also meant that divisive strikers Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were deemed unnecessary baggage for the squad and perhaps hindering the progress of talented academy products. The pair were moved over to Serie A in the summer transfer window.
Solsjaker has subsequently stated on his clear methodology: “If you don’t throw [the younger players] in at some point you don’t know what you’ve got. I’ve always done this wherever I’ve been, and if you have good young forward players they will win you games.”
Greenwood had previously caught attention for devoted United disciples with a stunning goal rate for the Under 18s side, managing 34 goals in 34 appearances (plus nine assists for good measure).
His rapid rise through the youth set-up cut rewarded him with the Jimmy Murphy Youth Team Player of the Year award for the 2018/19 season, and subsequently a stellar claim to be part of Solskjaer’s plans.
Against Astana, Greenwood rewarded Solskjaer’s confidence. Playing the full 90 minutes, he won both of his tackles, and achieved a 94% successful passing rate in the final third of the box. Greenwood also christened his tenth appearance for United with a well-executed goal - the decisive goal for the opening group stage win as Man Utd reacquaint themselves with the Europa League competition.
He’s also garnered the praise of teammate, compatriot, and positional rival Marcus Rashford, himself used to being heralded as the NBT (next big thing) who was awarded the same youth award three years prior;
"He is quite laid-back," said Rashford. "I think it's no good putting things in his head repeatedly. He's a clever kid so he'll learn it as he goes.
“His natural abilities are frightening."
And it just had to be Mason Greenwood 🙌
The youngster bags his first senior goal!