Magic moment: Mason Greenwood's first goal

It's easy to forget now, but Mason Greenwood didn't net a senior Manchester United goal until his ninth appearance.

It's easy to forget for a few reasons. 
 
One, because he's bagged 11 more since, despite just 15 subsequent starts. And two, because he's made the act of scoring goals at the highest level look so, so simple.
 
It's also easy to forget that that maiden strike at first-team level came under pressure. Maybe not the kind of pressure you'd associate with a Champions League final, or a derby game against Manchester City, admittedly. But pressure, nevertheless.

Highlights: United 1 Astana 0Video

United fielded an experimental line-up for our opening Europa League group-stage fixture of the season against FC Astana.
 
The Kazakh side had flown approximately 3,700 miles to get to M16, and the pre-match talk concentrated, perhaps unfairly, on how many goals United would triumph by, not whether we would win or not.
 
But with 20 minutes to go, Astana were clinging on. The score remained 0-0.
 
The all-Academy quartet that had spearheaded United's attack – Chong, Gomes, Greenwood and Rashford – had impressed sporadically, but as the contest prepared to enter its final stages, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer introduced Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard to try and find the crucial goal that would put the Reds ahead and get us off to the start required in Group L.
But it was Greenwood, not the experienced old hands, that proved the difference. And he did so in a way that would soon become familiar to both United fans and opposition defences.
 
When Fred finds Mason to the right of the Kazakh penalty area, you can hear the tension and frustration building in the crowd. It's the 73rd minute. When will this goal come? Surely we'll find one?
 
“Fred...”
strains MUTV commentator Stewart Gardner, in a stressed voice, as the Brazilian works the ball wide.
 
“Shoot!”
comes a desperate, distant cry from the stands, as Greenwood picks it up.
The 18-year-old controls the ball with his right, shifts it quickly to his left, and begins to work the defender. After a couple of settling touches and a fake-to-shoot with his left, he turns back onto his right and fires low.
 
It zips straight through the goalkeepers legs, and into the net. 1-0 United.
 
There was plenty of relief within the Old Trafford roar, but also audible admiration at the style and class of the finish. First goals for Academy players rarely arrive accompanied by such composure, such confidence.
 
Even Greenwood's celebration was full of assurance. 'What else did you expect?' his outstretched arms seemed to ask the Stretford End.

All the Goals: Mason GreenwoodVideo

In his next match, he did it again, and from virtually the same spot on the pitch. This time he faked to shoot with his right, and blasted home with his left, but the result was still the same: a goalkeeper picking himself up off the floor. United one up.
 
Within months, the excellence of his finishing became almost comically mundane. He blasted home twice against Alkmaar within minutes. Against Everton he found a priceless equaliser, sliding home a strike that found a few spare millimetres between several Toffees defenders and Jordan Pickford and his left-hand goal post.
 
There was a poacher's finish at Sheffield United, a penalty at Tranmere. A crossbar-shattering master-blaster against Newcastle.

Ask Man Utd: Greenwood x MaticVideo

There's nine Premier League games left, and potentially numerous FA Cup and Europa League fixtures. Who knows what milestones and records he could break before the season is out?
 
But right now, that doesn't matter so much. Greenwood has already done more than almost any player does in their first full senior season.
 
That very first goal against Astana told us much of what we needed to know: that here, on our hands, was yet another very special player from the Manchester United youth system.
 
All we need to do now is sit back and enjoy where his talent might take him next.

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