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Erik ten Hag challenges Alejandro Garnacho to push for first-team spot at Man United

Garnacho set up Fernandes in the 78th minute and later found Scotland international McTominay with a cross from the left in stoppage time.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United (L) celebrates with Alejandro Garnacho of Manchester United after scoring their 2nd goal during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on November 10, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Simon Stacpoole/OffsideGetty

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has told Alejandro Garnacho he must keep working to make his way into the United side after an impressive cameo in Thursday’s 4-2 Carabao Cup win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

The 18-year-old Argentinian came off the bench moments after defender Diogo Dalot’s own goal had put Villa ahead. Soon after Marcus Rashford equalised for United, and Garnacho came off the bench to provide two assists as Bruno Fernandes put the home side in front before Scott McTominay scored a fourth.

Garnacho set up Fernandes in the 78th minute and later found Scotland international McTominay with a cross from the left in the 91st minute.

Garnacho’s first for United

In United’s 1-0 Europa League win at Real Sociedad last week Garnaco scored his first senior goal for the club, but he was held back by Ten Hag after missing meetings during the club’s pre-season tour, and the Dutch coach once again laid down a marker over his attitude.

“It was good that he came on and showed that performance and had that impact in the game, to be able to assist, make the dribbles and run behind,” Ten Hag said post-match.

“There are some things he has to improve, for instance when we go long to go for the second balls. He still has things to learn but quite obviously we are happy with his development and he can contribute to the team.

“It depends on his approach, his attitude. When he keeps working then yes, it is possible (for him to play more). He wants to improve every day. He has to do the right things in his lifestyle. He has the capability.”

Kompany returns to Old Trafford

Thursday’s win over Villa sets up a last-16 clash at Old Trafford against Vincent Kompany’s Burnley, who are top of the Championship.

Ten Hag admitted he was pleased with the spirit United showed as they came from behind twice against Unai Emery’s side.

“The fighting spirit was back,” he continued. “The players are not robots, I know that but what I can’t accept is that you get beaten like on Sunday. It was quite clear, the reaction from the team today.

“To go down and fight like this I see progress in our attitude and mentality. We are going in the right direction.”

Villa can’t do double on United

Villa beat United 3-1 in the Premier League at the weekend in Emery’s first game in charge of the Birmingham club, but the Spaniard was unable to repeat the feat in the Carabao Cup.

“For 75 minutes we competed well and we were having chances,” Emery said. “In the last 15 minutes was the moment we lost a little bit our mentality. We have to improve and work on this in the days before the match against Brighton.

“I learned a lot because the players gave me a lot of information in the performance. I am not 100 per cent happy with the performance on Sunday and not with tonight but I think in both matches there were more good things than bad.”


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