Man United FC

Forget Sancho: “Excellent” Man Utd gem with 104 touches was Ten Hag’s star vs Sheriff – opinion

Manchester United won their first Europa League match of the season, 2-0 against Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova.


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After a fantastic passing move by Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot after Diego Dalot was fouled.


Erik Ten Hag’s team is now second in the group, one point behind Real Sociedad, who won 1-0 at Old Trafford last week, so a win over Sheriff was critical.


Lisandro Martinez, a summer addition, stood out in the 2-0 victory.


The Argentine, who joined from Ten Hag’s former club Ajax, was imperious alongside Raphael Varane as the Red Devils won their fifth straight game when starting with that pairing.


Martinez would receive a 7.3/10 rating from SofaScore for his performance, trailing only Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho.


No one on the field made more clearances (four), completed more passes (87), completed more long passes (six), or had more touches (104) than Martinez, emphasizing his impact.


Given that the Argentina international has averaged 43.3 passes, 2.2 long balls, and 4.7 clearances per game in the Premier League this season, it is apparent that he was on top of his game in Moldova and helped United dictate the play.


It’s becoming plain why Ten Hag was so anxious to get the center-back this summer, given how much better he is on the ball than Harry Maguire.


FBref emphasizes this by noting that Martinez ranks in the 97th percentile for progressive passes, whereas Maguire ranks in the 61st.


After a difficult start to life at Old Trafford, the “excellent” Martinez was back in top form on Thursday evening and should make headlines ahead of Sancho as Ten Hag’s top performer.

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