Young guns Hojlund and Garnacho fire Man United to easy victory over West Ham

Future looking bright for Erik ten Hag's side as youngsters once again secure Premier League points

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Birthday boy Rasmus Hojlund celebrated turning 21 with a goal as fellow youngster Alejandro Garnacho hit a brace in Manchester United's comfortable 3-0 win against West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Hojlund, who signed for United in the summer, bagged his fourth Premier League goal in as many games with a composed finish after 23 minutes. The Dane now has five from his last six in all competitions.

Less than a minute after Hammers' full-back Emerson wasted a great chance to equalise, Garnacho made it 2-0 when his shot deflected in off Nayef Aguerd on 49 minutes.

The 19-year-old Argentine then put the game beyond doubt in the 84th minute after being released by substitute Scott McTominay.

The future at United is looking rosy as their youngsters are starting to hit top gear. Kobbie Mainoo, the 18-year-old local boy, scored a stoppage-time stunner to win Thursday’s rollercoaster clash at Wolves.

After Garnacho's first goal, he mimicked West Ham forward Mohammed Kudus’ celebration, alongside Hojlund and Mainoo, as the trio sat together on the advertising hoardings.

The only downside for United manager Erik Ten Hag was the injury picked up by Lisandro Martinez with 20 minutes of the match left.

After sluggish start, the game sprang into life when United keeper Andre Onana was forced to push away a Tomas Soucek header that took a deflection.

Hammers' keeper Alphonse Areola did well to tip away a wickedly curling Bruno Fernandes shot, before Soucek and James Ward-Prowse saw efforts go close.

The opener came in the 23rd minute after Casemiro won the ball in midfield and it fell to Hojlund, who cleverly cut inside Aguerd and then drove an 18-yard shot low past Areola.

Lukasz Fabianski came on for Areola at the interval and United were lucky to still be ahead after Harry Maguire gave the ball away only for Emerson to make a complete hash of a gilt-edged opening.

It was punished immediately as United broke forward and Fernandes’ diagonal ball found Garnacho, who cut on to his left and hit a drive that went in off Aguerd in the 49th minute.

There was bad news to follow for United, though, as Martinez picked up another injury. Only recently back from a foot injury, he clutched his right knee after Vladimir Coufal landed on him awkwardly. Martinez was able to continue, only to fall to the deck again.

West Ham tried to pull one back and Kurt Zouma hooked wide, before substitute Kalvin Phillips’ dreadful effort got the kind of reception you would expect for a Manchester City loanee and former Leeds star.

In the 84th minute, Phillips surrendered possession under pressure from McTominay and Hojlund. It began a counter-attack that ended with Garnacho firing home in the 84th minute.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, goalscorer Hojlund said: "It is always special to play on your birthday but today of course with the win, yeah. It was very good.

"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."

Man of the match Garnacho added: "I am very happy because I scored two goals. I am enjoying it a lot playing for this club with this stadium and the fans. We are happy."

A delighted Ten Hag said of the development of his young stars: "The future for Manchester United is very good because we have high potentials. I think that picture [below] covers the lot, how they are together and want to play football with adventure and enjoyment. If we keep this process going I am sure we will achieve high levels.

"We are building a team, we signed young players and give them opportunities. This is a process with ups and downs and we have to realise this. Our experienced players will help them and we need them and they will help the young players perform."

On Martinez's injury, he said: "It seems bad. We have to wait, make the right diagnosis in the coming days and then we will see. Hopefully it is not too bad, we can only pray.

"He worked so hard to return and now after two games it looks like he has to sit some games out again."

Updated: February 04, 2024, 6:24 PM