Solskjaer hails Ighalo after Club Brugge rout

Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described Odion Ighalo as a "natural striker" after the on-loan Nigerian scored his first Manchester United goal.

The former Watford forward got his name on the scoresheet on Thursday night as the Red Devils thrashed Club Brugge 5-0 to reach the last 16 of the Europa League.

With Anthony Martial missing out through injury, Ighalo was given his first start since his surprise loan move from Shanghai Shenhua last month.

The 30-year-old responded with a goal in the first half and led the line well, with United easing to a comfortable victory against 10-man opposition to go through 6-1 on aggregate.

Solskjaer was delighted with Ighalo’s performance and feels the loan man took his goal well, while also bringing in players around him.

The United boss said: “I’m very happy with the contribution of Odion, doing what he does. He’s a target man, we can play up to him, he’ll hold it, he’s got Juan (Mata) and Bruno (Fernandes) next to him and you’ve got runners then.

“I think as a fellow striker I know how important that first goal is. He’s been close a couple of times, you can see he sniffs goals. He wants to be there where it sometimes hurts. That goal, he’s sharp in his head. That’s a natural striker.”

Ighalo’s fellow January recruit Fernandes showed again what a exciting signing he is, scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot after a spectacular handball from defender Simon Deli, who was sent off.

The Portuguese midfielder then played a crucial role in the second for Ighalo before Scott McTominay, making a welcome return to the starting line-up after injury, grabbed a third before half-time.

Two late goals from Fred emphasised United’s superiority and Solskjaer was understandably buoyant as he reflected on the performance.

The Norwegian said: “I’m very happy tonight. Obviously we’re in a moment now that we rotate a bit, players are getting games, but when you score goals and play like this, you’re going to get more confidence.”

United will look to take that confidence into their next outing when they make the short trip to Goodison Park to face Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton on Sunday.