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Pellistri shows promise on first Man Utd appearance

2:11 AM IST 24/10/20
Facundo Pellistri Manchester United GFX
The teenager started for the club for the first time for the U23s as they beat Everton in Premier League 2.

It took just 28 minutes for Facundo Pellistri to be given a true welcome to English football as he was on the receiving end of a two-footed challenge which saw him fly through the air and land on the Leigh Sports Village turf.

The 18-year-old winger was making his first appearance in a Manchester United shirt on Friday in a Premier League 2 clash with Everton, having signed from Penarol for £9 million  ($11.75m) on deadline day.

His fee and the fact he has been thrown straight into the first team bubble, named on the bench against Paris Saint Germain for the Champions League game on Tuesday, means expectations are high.

Those who have watched him in Uruguay have suggested he is still too raw to go straight into the first team. This is a player who has just 37 first-team appearances and had been plying his trade in the Primera Division.

But, with no disrespect to top-flight football in Uruguay, it is not a match for the Premier League and, on first look, that assessment seems to be fair.

Changes to the bubble system allowed Pellistri, along with Brandon Williams and Marcos Rojo, to clock some vital minutes for Neil Wood’s side as they came from behind to win against Everton on Friday night, their first league win of the season.

The use of separate changing rooms, different pre-match preparation and separate travels means the trio will be clear to return to training straight away with Solskjaer’s side while getting some match fitness.

It wasn’t an explosive first appearance from Pellistri as he looks to find his feet, sometimes literally with the heavy tackles flying in, playing in a new country.

"Whilst we understand it will take time for him to adapt to the English game, he is capable of having an impact with his pace and ability to beat his opponent,” Solskjaer said upon Pellistri’s arrival. And there were glimpses of that at Leigh Sports Village with his dribbling and classy touches showing why the club wanted to bring him to England.

He had a quiet first half where he had a good chance from 12 yards out after he had drifted inside and got on the end of a good ball from Shola Shoretire. But, aside from that he was getting used to the physicality of the game and looked a little hesitant and nervous despite some nice touches and control. Sometimes he would make good runs and not be picked up by his teammates but that is understandable given the teenager had had no training time with Wood’s side ahead of the fixture.

While he was a slow burner in the first half, he started the second with more fire and his direct runs drew fouls in dangerous positions. His silky skills and close control helped him to skin Joe Anderson down the right only for his cross into the box to be blocked. He even managed to confuse referee Scott Simpson with his skill as he beat two Everton players, only to be shown a yellow card.

It was a performance with promise rather than final product but after growing into the game and completing his first 90 minutes in a red shirt it was a display which showed why United wanted to bring him to Old Trafford.