Antony’s close-ranged strike and Diogo Dalot’s first Premier League goal sent Manchester United on their way to a comfortable 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Sunday evening.
With a daunting number of first team injuries inflicted upon Erik ten Hag of late, United fans will have been concerned before kick-off when Tyrell Malacia was not named in the matchday squad, coupled with in-form Marcel Sabitzer being replaced in the lineup before kick-off.
It had little effect on United’s performance, however, with Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen running the show in the midfield with the comfort of having Casemiro behind them.Embed from Getty Images
The 32nd minute opener came courtesy of Antony, who bundled the ball home from only a few yards out. Anthony Martial showed the aggression to nip in and intercept the ball that resulted in a one-two with Fernandes, who himself played an excellent first-time ball in behind to the Frenchman. Martial’s effort was saved brilliantly by Kaylor Navas, but the rebound was tucked away by Antony after the Brazilian got there first.
In spite of sporadic, half-hearted moments every now and again from Forest, the home side rarely threatened David De Gea in the United goal. Steve Cooper’s side failed to register a shot on target across the ninety, so nobody could argue when Diogo Dalot- operating at left-back on the day- slotted his side into a two-goal advantage.
Antony had shown brilliant ability to run infield from the right-wing before playing a delightful pass onto a sixpence with his left-foot to Dalot, who made no mistake one-on-one with Navas to score his first Premier League goal on his 100th appearance for the club.Embed from Getty Images
The strike in the 76th minute was nothing more than what The Reds deserved as the game faded out to a close thereafter. The scoreline flattered Forest, with United’s forwards culpable of missing a lot of big chances.
Final Score: Nottingham Forest 0-2 Manchester United (Antony 32’, Dalot 76’)
Man of the match
Take your pick from that one! Dalot was fantastic, Victor Lindelof will go under the radar but what a performance it was from him, too. Fernandes did not put a foot wrong and dictated the game alongside Eriksen, but Antony ought to take the award for what many are saying was his best game yet in a red shirt.
The 23-year-old came close with a trademark curler in the first-half after he had opened the scoring. He took on a few chances, yet he was hardly selfish given the chances that he created for his teammates. He is often criticised for his aggression towards the opponent, but he kept his head today even when the crowd were riled up. The assist for the second goal was like a work of art.
It was a top performance from the winger.
The bigger picture
It is a massive win for United. With Newcastle and Tottenham both losing at the weekend, the three points gives some nice breathing space ahead of the chasing pack.
After a crushing blow in Europe in midweek, the players looked right on it from the get-go and they can only be applauded for it.
The injuries are piling up and Ten Hag will definitely be worried, but the only thing that United can do is take it game by game and treat every match as a cup final. It becomes a lot more difficult to win with so many key players out, although it might just spur the squad on in the face of adversity.
What is next?
Next up for Ten Hag and United is Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-finals, taking place on Thursday 20th April at 20:00 (BST).
After that, United face Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley in the semi-finals of the FA Cup the following Sunday 23rd April at 16:30 (BST).