Alexis Sanchez is already Man United's main man after fine debut in Yeovil win

Alex Rea 27/01/2018
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Debutant Alexis Sanchez helped steer Manchester United into the FA Cup fifth round with two assists as Jose Mourinho’s men eased past Yeovil 4-0.

The Chile forward laid on goals for Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera, with Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku glossing the score late on at Huish Park.

Here, we analyse the performance of United’s new signing.

STATISTICS 

Goals – 0

Assists – 1

Shots – 2

Shots on target – 1

Touches – 93

Passes – 71

Key passes – 6

Dribbles – 1

Dispossessed – 2

30-SECOND REPORT

Deployed on the left of a front three as Jose Mourinho set-up with a 4-3-3, Sanchez was comfortably United’s best player.

Before he was substituted in the 70th minute – with a rare smile on the bench to signal a job well done – the new signing had the most passes, most key passes, most touches and had registered an assist, maybe even two.

The Chilean was sharp and what United fans will like most about his display is that he shouldered the burden of being United’s main man in attack. The 29-year-old repeatedly searched for the difficult defense-splitting pass having been the outlet in transitions from defence to attack and wasn’t afraid to cut inside to link the play.

His strong running and tenacious movement made him troublesome to pick up and tricky to knock off the ball – leading to several reckless challenges from the Yeovil backline.

An archetypal Sanchez display and a fine debut having had a hand in the two opening goals.

GOT RIGHT

Driving runs inside – The Chilean was the obvious outlet on the left side but after getting the ball out of his feet, his immediate thought was to drive inside to create space for either the full back on a reverse or to stretch the Yeovil defence with a switched ball.

Link-up play – Hardly misplaced a shorter pass, even the killer through balls and his telepathic understanding with Juan Mata was noteworthy.

First touch – Whether under the high ball or on the end of a pinged in pass to feet, Sanchez’s control all game was sublime. His command of possession was computer-game like at times such was his ease to bring the ball under his control.

Wort rate – Luke Shaw talked in midweek of Sanchez displaying crazy skills in training but it was his insane work rate which deserved attention against Yeovil. With and without the ball he was the image of intensity.

GOT WRONG

Passing – Sanchez’s shorter passes were great but his longer balls, particularly crossfield, were a little inaccurate. He hit 14 long passes, nine were considered accurate, but at least three went out for a throw and even the ones which found a target hung in the air and required adjustment from the receiver.

Set pieces – Mitigating circumstance with the dreadful pitch hardly servicing quality deliveries but given the duty of set-pieces, his corners were flat and a freekick in the first-half was comfortably saved.

KEY MOMENTS

21st min KEY PASS: Sanchez’s quick feet creates an opening for Rashford to make a run through the inside left channel to meet it. He gathers but running out of space the ball just slithers out for a goalkick.

24th min KEY PASS: Carrick tackle and pass sets up a counter and the move ends with Sanchez swivelling in the box to tee up McTominay, but Krysiak is alert and gets a strong hand to the midfielder’s low strike.

39th min SHOT: Mata pings a pass into Sanchez’s feet and the Chilean controls perfectly to work a yard of space on the right-side of the box. His shot, however, is poor and he drags the effort well wide.

41st min KEY PASS: Dire defending from Yeovil leads to the opener. Rashford breaks and feeds Sanchez who drives into the unoccupied space on the left. He plays a return pass to Rashford who looks to have been stopped by James but the defender’s attempt to shield the ball back to his keeper allows Rashford to nip in and finish.

50th min KEY PASS: Excellent vision from Sanchez who chips a delightful ball from the left wing into Rashford who darts into the box and again evades the attention of Yeovil defence. He looks certain to double his and United’s tally until a crucial challenge sends the ball wide for a corner.

62nd min ASSIST: Counter-attacking excellence underpinned by the positivity of Sanchez. United break from a Yeovil corner by playing it up to Mata at halfway. He spins his man, has time to switch the ball to Sanchez who has Rashford and Herrera sprinting to his left. He cuts inside, reverses the ball to Herrera on the left of box and he takes the ball in his stride to hammer a diagonal strike into the opposite corner.

71st min SUBSTITUTION: Sanchez’s United debut comes to an end with the introduction of Jesse Lingard.

Yeovil Town v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round

VERDICT

Created both opening goals, was United’s sole source of attacking thrust for much of the game. His tenacious work rate hallmarked a fine debut in a United shirt.

Granted, it was Yeovil, but the qualities of Sanchez were on display and will no doubt be carried through until the end of the season.

RATING: 8/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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Follow live match updates from Man United v Yeovil as Alexis Sanchez makes his debut

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Jose Mourinho

Don’t miss a single minute of action in the FA Cup as Manchester United face Yeovil Town with Alexis Sanchez being handed a debut.

Text commentary will begin closer to kick-off.

Follow the action with our live blog:

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Cristiano Ronaldo says Champions League is most important trophy for Real Madrid

Alex Rea 26/01/2018
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Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo believes a third consecutive Champions League triumph would salvage a dire domestic campaign for Real Madrid.

Los Blancos were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Leganes on Wednesday to heap yet more pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane.

The 19-point chasm which separates the reigning La Liga champions and league leaders Barcelona means the only realistic source of silverware is in Europe.

And Ronaldo insists the Champions League is a big priority now with Real needing to navigate past Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.

Speaking to Chinese outlet Doonqiudi after being voted their Footballer of the Year, the 32-year-old said: “If we can win the Champions League at the end of the year, it will be an incredible year.

“We haven’t started well in La Liga and we are disappointed, nobody is happy about that.

“But now we must work hard for the Champions League because it’s the most important trophy for us.

“It will be difficult in La Liga, but we can’t give up, even if we have dropped many points since the start of the season. We have to keep working.”

The individual honour from Doonqiudi recognised a stellar 2017 for the Portuguese superstar as he inspired both Spanish and European glory.

However, the troubling 2017/18 campaign for Madrid has been mirrored by Ronaldo’s poor domestic form and it is made all the worse by Barcelona rival Lionel Messi’s sparkling displays in Spain.

The Argentine will surely compete to move ahead of Ronaldo in the Ballon d’Or trophy hunt in 2018 with the pair both on five.

But while the Madrid spearhead has some catching up to do, he says individual prizes are not his motivation.

“I’m not obsessed with that because I didn’t even expect to win the five that I have won,” Ronaldo added.

“It is good, though, and between myself and Messi, we have shared the Ballon d’Or for the last 10 years.”

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Failures for Madrid could be papered up by a good run at this summer’s World Cup with Ronaldo leading his country at the tournament in Russia.

And he is adamant Portugal can be competitive with the possibility of springing a surprise as they did to win Euro 2016.

“Germany, Spain, Brazil, France and Argentina are going to be the favourites,” said Ronaldo who will lead Portugal into a group with Spain in Russia.

“Despite the fact that Portugal won’t be included among the favourites, we always compete and will do so again.”

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