Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho netted twice after Rasmus Hojlund scored on his 21st birthday as the Old Trafford side beat West Ham United 3-0 to climb above the visitors into sixth place in the Premier League on Sunday.
On the heels of a 4-3 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday, Erik ten Hag’s team now have 38 points after 23 games, eight adrift of fourth spot. The Hammers are seventh with 36. “I have said it before in the last couple of months the future for Manchester United is very bright,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “We have some real high potential, we can play fluid football, speed it up as we need and defend well.
“The goals today showed young players with high potential. Every game they are growing and improving and adapting to a higher level. When they enjoy their football the confidence comes and you can see the belief is growing.”
Hojlund scored in the 23rd minute when Casemiro prodded the ball forward after West Ham failed to clear a high ball. The Dane knocked the ball past a couple of defenders before firing home from the centre of the box into the bottom corner. “It was very good. It’s always special to play on your birthday but today of course with the win, yeah,” Hojlund said.
“A month ago there was a lot of talk about us (Hojlund and Garnacho) not scoring enough goals but we are both young and growing every day. You can see the connection between us.”
Hojlund, who did not score his first league goal until Dec. 26, became the youngest player in the Old Trafford team’s history to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances.
Garnacho, 19, doubled the lead in the 49th after his shot from the corner of the box took a big deflection to send substitute goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski the wrong way. The Argentine netted his second in the 84th after Kalvin Phillips lost the ball and Scott McTominay pounced, finding Garnacho in the box.
“I am enjoying it a lot playing for this club with this stadium and the fans,” Garnacho said. “We are happy.”
His first goal came seconds after arguably West Ham’s best chance when an error from Harry Maguire saw Emerson left on his own but the Brazilian fired his shot well over the bar.
Defender and former captain Maguire was making his first start since Dec. 12 when he limped off with a groin injury in the 1-0 home defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Ten Hag’s team have now scored 11 goals in their last three games — including a 4-2 win at Newport County in the FA Cup fourth round — after 10 goals in their previous 10 games. Home keeper Andre Onana also came up with several terrific saves in his second game since returning from international duty with Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The one negative was the loss of Argentine defender Lisandro Martinez to an apparent knee injury in the second half in only his fourth game since returning from foot surgery.
“We have to find out in the next days what the diagnosis is,” Ten Hag said. “It is very bad, very bad for him and the team. He is just returning. He is very important for us. He brings spirit to the team, aside from his football ability.”