Ten Hag hails Weghorst after goal in Man United Europa League win

Workhorse Weghorst! Erik ten Hag hails the Dutch forward after he rounded off Man United’s Europa League win over Real Betis… with the loanee now racking up as many starts for the club as Anthony Martial has in the last two years

  • Weghorst scored his first Old Trafford goal in Thursday’s 4-1 win over Real Betis
  • Dutch striker, on loan from Burnley, was praised afterwards by Erik ten Hag
  • He has filled the gap left by the injury-prone French forward Anthony Martial 

It has taken Wout Weghorst less than two months to rack up 15 starts for Manchester United – the same amount Anthony Martial has managed in the last two years for the club.

Weghorst scored his first goal at Old Trafford – and second overall for United – in the Europa League win over Real Betis on Thursday night before launching into an emotional celebration in front of the Stretford End.

The 6ft 6in Dutchman’s finishing has been called into question since he arrived on loan from Burnley in January, and there was more evidence of that in United’s 4-1 win. He certainly lacks the same finesse as more technically adept strikers like Martial.

But Weghorst has emerged as a real workhorse and selfless team player for United, and manager Erik ten Hag acknowledged the importance of that in Martial’s absence.

‘He is physically capable to play a lot of games. He is a very fit player and he recovers very good,’ said Ten Hag.

Wout Weghorst was elated to score his first Manchester United goal at Old Trafford in Thursday night’s 4-1 Europa League win over Real Betis

The on-loan Dutch striker drew praise from manager Erik ten Hag after his goal on Thursday

The 6ft 6in forward isn’t the best finisher but contributes to the team with other attributes 

‘Did I expect (him to play so many games)? I expect that he would play a lot but obviously we have an injury with Anthony Martial, so that’s obviously that’s the main reason he’s playing every game from start to almost finish.

‘Barcelona I think I took him off but many other games he played. I think he is doing well. If a striker or as a No 10 in the midfield, he is also bringing good performances.

‘I think he has intelligence from positions. He is a very good anticipator. I tell him of course to link up there, which he is also doing as a high striker – linking up and getting in front of the goal when crosses are coming in, and also the defending part he is very good at it.’

Ten Hag also paid tribute to Weghorst for not allowing his failings in front of goal to dent his confidence after he missed another couple of chances against Betis.

The 30-year-old was unlucky when Luiz Felipe got the slightest of touches to divert his close-range effort just past the post, but then fortunate that he was offside when he spooned another opportunity over the bar from Marcus Rashford’s cross.

Weghorst’s relief was palpable when he turned the loose ball home in the 82nd minute after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had saved Scott McTominay’s effort, and the emotion showed as he celebrated with his teammates.

‘I think as you see he is often in the right position, then he fails but he keeps going,’ said Ten Hag. ‘So he showed great personality and character, not only in this game.

Weghorst has already started as many matches for United as Anthony Martial has in two years

Martial has returned to training with United following a hip problem, his latest setback

‘He could have early on his goal but he keeps focused, keeps working, keeps putting himself in the right positions and finally he got his goal and his reward.’

Martial is back in training after his latest injury – a hip problem – and could return to the squad for Sunday’s game at home to Southampton.

But Ten Hag is reluctant to rush the Frenchman back too quickly after seeing him break down again in the past. The first of Martial’s last 15 starts in all competitions came on March 11, 2021.

‘I think all the time we had a good plan, and it worked until now not always good,’ added the United boss. ‘But he is on his way back. He’s back in training but we will be cautious.’

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