Why Pellistri fully deserves his chance

Saturday 11 March 2023 09:00

Facundo Pellistri deserves his first-team opportunities because of his application and performances in training, according to Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

The Uruguay international came off the bench in the 4-1 win over Real Betis and immediately sparked the final goal of the Europa League contest. A purposeful run past several defenders preceded a cut-back to Scott McTominay and, when his fellow substitute's effort was pushed out by Claudio Bravo, Wout Weghorst was on hand to steer the ball into the unguarded net.

Only a decent stop from Bravo denied Pellistri getting on the scoresheet himself and another lively cameo from the 21-year-old was a talking point on the way out of Old Trafford afterwards.

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When we caught up with the boss to speak to him at Carrington prior to Sunday's Premier League match with Southampton, MUTV's Mark Sullivan asked Erik what his message would be to Pellistri for the rest of the season, as the winger hopes to get more chances to impress.

“He is the example by deserving his position by performance on the training [ground]," the Dutchman replied. "And I said the other day, I did not select him for Liverpool and it was not even totally justified because he was training that well.

"Now this was his moment to come on because of a longer period he performed in training. What impressed me was he came on and, straight [away], showed himself. When they came on, Scott [McTominay] and Pelli, it was 3-1 but 4-1 is huge, to make the extra goal. In the first moment, they did, which was brilliant.”

Pellistri, who had two spells out on loan at Alaves in La Liga, after arriving at the club from Penarol in 2020, will be keen to remain in the matchday squad for Sunday's 14:00 GMT kick-off against the Saints.

The Betis outing was his fifth senior appearance in total for the Reds, after playing three times for his country at the World Cup, and his first in European competition, following his Premier League bow in the 2-2 draw with Leeds United last month.