MANCHESTER United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has described Odion Ighalo as a natural striker after the targetman scored his first goal for the club during yesterday’s 5-0 victory over Belgian clubside Brugge in the Europa League.
Ighalo, 30, was a deadline day signing, secured on loan from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua until the end of the season. Due to a combination of issues including getting him back to fitness and ensuring he was not affected by the coronavirus, Ighalo had not started any game since his arrival on January 31 until yesterday.
Starting in place of French striker Anthony Martial who is nursing an injury, Ighalo marked his first start with a goal, scoring United’s second in the game in the 34th minute. After the Reds had gone one up through a penalty in the 27th minute, 11minutes before halftime, Ighalo showed his predatory instincts, spinning quickly and getting in front of his marker to slot the ball home after receiving a pass from Juan Mata.
An elated Solskjaer said: “I think, as a fellow striker myself, I know how important that first goal is and 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 was sharp in his head and as that ball is played over to Juan, he spins and was on the six-yard line when Juan puts it there. That’s a natural striker.”
Ighalo added: “It is a great feeling as I have waited for this all my life. I am a Man United fan and playing for Man United is my dream.
“Then scoring my first goal for Manchester United, this is something I will cherish all the days of my life. Today’s date is history for me as I played three games, so there was a little bit of pressure but now I got a goal to start my Manchester United career.”
For all the celebrations and the historic nature of the moment, there was also a tinge of sadness about the goal, reflected in the slightly uncharacteristic nature of the celebrations in which Ighalo lifted his shirt to reveal a t-shirt printed with a picture of his late sister. He said he lost his sister on December 12 and she was a real Manchester United fan.