Sanchez laid on two goals in a man-of-the-match debut as United coasted past Yeovil 4-0 at Huish Park on Friday, strolling into the FA Cup fifth round.
The Chile forward teed up Marcus Rashford and Herrera for goals, before Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku glossed the scoreline late on.
Allied to Sanchez’s attacking prowess, Herrera believes the ex-Arsenal star’s grit for teamwork will prove a huge asset to United.
“What I really like from him is the way he fights when the team loses the ball,” Herrera told MUTV. “He’s always ready to be the first defender for the team, and that’s big for us.
“Obviously we know his quality on the ball, he’s amazing, but his fight, the way he defends, he’s the first player to defend – I really like it.”
Sanchez jumped straight into United’s line-up at the first opportunity following his move from Arsenal, where Henrikh Mkhitaryan moved in the opposite direction.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 26, 2018
Michael Carrick captained United on his first showing since September, stabilising the midfield for Jose Mourinho’s travelling side.
And the former England midfielder was another to hail Sanchez’s signing as a coup for United, branding the playmaking forward as a typical Old Trafford star.
“He is not bad is he? Not bad for a little man,” Carrick told MUTV.
“He is going to be a terrific player, he is a proper Manchester United player, and it’s great to have him here.
“He is so exciting and so dynamic. He’s always looking to create opportunities, to play forward and the fans are going to enjoy watching him, hopefully we will enjoy playing with him.”
Alexis Sanchez’s game by numbers vs. Yeovil:
53 (73%) passes completed
6 chances created
2 tackles won
1 take-on completed
Strong performance. pic.twitter.com/FEuYqTwrkK
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 26, 2018
Yeovil boss Darren Way praised his League Two side for pushing United as hard as possible, before adding to the positive voices around Sanchez’s Red Devils start.
“He’s absolutely world-class,” said Way.
“It’s a total honour for us to go up against a side of that quality, and a player of that calibre.
“It was a huge honour for me to speak to a manager of Jose Mourinho‘s class as well. Even in the office he just oozes class. He was very humble with me.
“He knew everything about me. It wouldn’t surprise me if he knew my children’s names. And to share that moment with him was very special.”
Alexis Sanchez made his debut for the Reds and was their most creative player, having a hand in his side’s first two goals.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring before the Chilean set up Ander Herrera for the second. Second half substitutes Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku got on the score sheet as well.
Here’s what we learned from the encounter.
MORE TO COME FROM POSITIVE SANCHEZ
After his high-profile transfer, donning United’s famous No7 shirt and with all eyes firmly fixed on his every involvement in the game, it wasn’t exactly a dream debut for Sanchez.
The Chilean, it must be said, was guilty of giving the ball away far too often. However, much of that was down to the fact that he was United’s most positive player and their greatest threat on a horrendous pitch.
Sanchez rarely opted for the easy way, choosing the difficult pass time after time in his relentless efforts to unlock a stubborn Yeovil defence.
The fact that he managed six key passes on the night including an assist for the second goal speaks volumes. Remove him from the equation and it could’ve been a frustrating night for United with the likes of Michael Carrick, Juan Mata, Scott McTominay and Rashford registering just one key pass each.
He was involved in the opener as well and produced some moments of real class. As he gets accustomed to his new team-mates, he’ll only get better.
DARMIAN NOT FIT FOR UNITED
With his every performance in a red shirt it becomes more and more apparent that Matteo Darmian is well out of his depth as a United player.
It’s disappointing for a defender who began life in Manchester well but the honeymoon period was all too short-lived. A trip away to Crystal Palace two years ago saw Wilfried Zaha expose his vulnerability to a bit of pace, trickery and strength.
The Italian has never recovered after that confidence shattering display when he was taken off in the first half itself.
In the outing against Yeovil as well, a League Two outfit, Darmian never looked comfortable.
His passing was weak and panicked under pressure. All in all, it was an uninspiring display. Darmian looks well short of competing with the likes of Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young for that right-back slot.
It doesn’t look as if there’s a path back into the first team for him and a move away from United could be on the cards.
I'm starting to think Matteo Darmian isn't a professional footballer. Amazes me every time I watch him.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) January 26, 2018
RASHFORD A MIXED BAG AS THE MAIN STRIKER
Rashford was his usual relentless self and it’s that doggedness that saw him steal in to score the opening goal, capitalising on a mix-up between Tom James and the keeper.
He ran the channels well but looked at his best whenever he found a bit of space or drifted wide rather than with his back to goal.
As such, United lacked a focal point in attack. Despite Romelu Lukaku’s patchy form in front of goal, his presence makes the system work.
Rashford is yet to hone his skills as a lone striker and it showed. There were plenty of positives to take away from his performance but Jose Mourinho’s reliance on Lukaku was shown again as he introduced the Belgian in the 64th minute who went on to score the fourth goal.
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.
Goals – 0
Assists – 1
Shots – 2
Shots on target – 1
Touches – 93
Passes – 71
Key passes – 6
Dribbles – 1
Dispossessed – 2
Given Mourinho’s claim that United players were childish at Leicester - those were two particularly adult contributions from Sanchez— James Robson (@JamesRobsonMEN) January 26, 2018
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.
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.
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.
Would much rather watch a player like Sánchez who actually attempts the difficult passes rather than someone who shies away from them. Might lose the ball and possession occasionally, but it will eventually come off. Has played well so far.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) January 26, 2018
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.
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.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com