28th February, 2020
Since Odion Ighalo joined Manchester United, a lot of the club’s followers have been wondering just when he would score his first goal for the Red Devils.
That almost happened in his very first game in the colours of ManU but then he was denied by a very good block by the opposing goal-keeper.
Well as is stands right now, the wait has come to a very happy end.
Odion Ighalo opened his Manchester United account in the Red Devils’ Europa League game against Club Brugge, becoming the first Nigerian to do so for the Old Trafford giants.
It was the striker’s first start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men following his shock loan move from Shanghai Shenhua as a replacement for injured Marcus Rashford.
He returned to England following a stint with Watford, but has had to be patient in a bid to open his account for the Red Devils.
That wait has now come to a close, with Ighalo finding the target in his third outing, this time against the Belgians.
With Bruno Fernandes firing the English side ahead after 27 minutes of action, the ex-Nigeria international found himself in the right place at the right time to prod home Juan Mata’s assist.
Fernandes twisted and turned on the edge of the area before floating a lofted through ball down the right side of the box for Mata. The ex-Chelsea man cut it back and the Nigerian was quickest to react to score from close range.
His trademark celebration was quickly wheeled out, with a clear sense of relief as Ighalo went through his well-rehearsed routine.
Thanks to his effort, he becomes the first Nigerian to score for United as well as the first African player to score for the club in all competitions since Eric Bailly in August 2017.
Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo described scoring his first goal for the club as a “dream come true”, and dedicated the strike to his late sister.
The Red Devils romped to a 5-0 win over Club Brugge in the second leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie on Thursday night, progressing to the next round 6-1 on aggregate.
Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring from the penalty spot just before the half-hour mark, after the Belgian outfit were reduced to ten men when Simon Deli handled the ball in the area.
Ighalo broke his duck moments later, showing off his predatory instincts to turn home a neat Juan Mata cut-back.
Scott McTominay added a third on his return from a two-month injury lay off, and Fred helped himself to two goals late on as United picked up their fifth win from their last seven matches across all competitions.
United took a gamble on Ighalo in the winter transfer market, bringing in the 30-year-old on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, but he impressed on his maiden start at Old Trafford.
When asked to describe his emotions post-match having got off the mark for his boyhood club, Ighalo responded: “It was a great moment, I have been waiting for this since making my debut.
“I have it now and it starts my goal career here at the team I have supported since I was a little boy.
“It is a dream come true and I thank God for that. “
Ighalo went on to dedicate his first-half strike to his late sister Mary Atole, who passed away suddenly in December.
He said: “I promise myself that every goal I score I will dedicate to her [his late sister]. So she is up there watching me and doing well for MUFC.”
The former Nigeria international added on how he has been able to settle into his new surroundings quickly at Old Trafford: “I know some of the guys from before and they are good lads.
“In the dressing room we have fun together and it’s much easier to gel with the team.”
United struggled to break Brugge down during the 1-1 draw at Jan Breydel Stadium last week, but produced a far more expansive display in front of their own fans.
“The confidence was high, we spoke about that before the game that it’s played at home and the fans are behind us,” Ighalo continued. “We had to go all out from the first minute and push to go to the next round and we did.
“The first goal opened up everything and the red card made it difficult for them, with our attacking and playing at home too. From the start, we worked hard until the last minute.”
The Red Devils will now prepare for a vital trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on Sunday, before attention shifts to a fifth-round FA Cup tie against Derby on March 5.