Amad Diallo vs Liverpool

Amad Diallo Deserves Chance Under Erik ten Hag After POTM Performance Vs. Liverpool

Over the years, Manchester United have had some iconic substitute cameos. Think of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s four goals against Nottingham Forest in 1999, Anthony Martial’s memorable debut goal against Liverpool in 2015, or Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham’s unforgettable contribution in the 1999 Champions League final.

On Sunday afternoon, Amad Diallo’s player-of-the-match performance against Liverpool became the latest addition. The Ivorian put in a superb all-round performance, which was capped off with an incredible last-minute winner in one of the all-time great FA Cup ties.

It has not been an easy season for Amad, who had played just over an hour of football all season before Sunday’s game against Liverpool. After injury setbacks earlier in the season, the 21-year-old stayed at Old Trafford rather than go out on loan in January. It is fair to say he took his opportunity with both hands.

Amad Diallo: Relentless Work On & Off the Ball

Perhaps the biggest standout from his performance on Sunday was how hard he worked with and without the ball. Hard work out of possession has long been a strength of the young winger’s game, and it certainly stood out at the weekend.

Amad was a real nuisance for Liverpool when they had the ball, constantly putting pressure on the man in possession, and chasing down loose balls. The 21-year-old won four ground duels yesterday and was bettered by only four Manchester United teammates.

In one crucial moment in the 110th minute, he won the ball off Darwin Nunez as the Uruguayan was about to unleash a shot. That phase of play was a Liverpool counter-attack, so it was impressive work to prevent Jurgen Klopp’s side from going on to potentially score.

The Ivorian is deceivingly good in the air, too. He won both aerial duels he contested on Sunday. While he isn’t the tallest, standing at just 5’8″, Amad gets a good jump thanks to a powerful base to leap from and saw success in battle against his opposition.

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Amad’s impressive reading of the game stood out against Liverpool, making two crucial challenges in particular, which ended up leading to Manchester United’s third and fourth goals. His involvement in Marcus Rashford’s 112th-minute equaliser may have gone unnoticed by some, but it was the No. 16’s smart interception of Nunez’s pass that found Scott McTominay in space, with the Scotland international threading Rashford through for 3-3.

The youngster left Nunez a small gap in which he could thread the ball through to a teammate, baiting Liverpool’s number nine into playing the pass, before quickly shuffling across at the last second to deflect the ball to McTominay. It was a smart piece of play from the Ivorian and shows how well he reads the game.

Aside from Amad’s unforgettable winning goal, he was great in possession and was a real focal point of United’s attacking play at times. Crucially, he did not give the ball away once, although he only had 10 passes.

However, United were chasing the game most of the time Amad was on the pitch and could not afford to be sloppy when in possession. The former Atalanta man looked after the ball well while also looking to progress play and create opportunities for an equaliser.

In particular, Amad utilised the space that Garnacho had on the left wing very well. There were a couple of instances when the 21-year-old switched play over to the left, thus creating an attacking opportunity for United. This included a one-vs.-one situation for Garnacho and created a scenario where the Argentine could play a smart through-ball in behind for Rashford to run onto and cross.

Amad has always been known as a superb ball carrier, a skill that shone through yesterday against Liverpool. He is very composed when in possession and can ride challenges with relative ease due to his low centre of gravity.

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This showed yesterday when, just moments after coming on, he picked up a loose ball, avoided a challenge from Wataru Endo, skipped past Alexis Mac Allister and drove into space. Of course, this is moments after coming on for Amad, while the Liverpool duo had played 90 minutes already, but regardless, it was impressive.

Breaking Down the Goal

Amad’s most important contribution yesterday was, of course, his incredible last-gasp winner in front of the Stretford End. Relief, exhilaration, exhaustion, and adrenaline were all emotions coursing around the ground amongst fans, players, and coaches. It was a perfect end to the game for the Red Devils.

While Amad himself scored the winning goal, he wouldn’t have been in that position had it not been for the crucial challenge he made against Harvey Elliott. A Liverpool corner was cleared to the edge of the box and dropped to Elliott, who miscontrolled the ball. This gave Amad, who was sniffing around in case of a mistake, his opportunity. The 21-year-old simply knocked the ball away from Elliot and into the path of Alejandro Garnacho to start the counter-attack.

Following Amad’s challenge on Elliott, he and Garnacho were in a two-vs.-one scenario against Conor Bradley. The eventual goal scorer held his run superbly, waiting for Garnacho’s inevitable pass. It wasn’t the best pass from United’s number 17 and went slightly behind Amad, but the Ivorian adjusted well and recovered with a good first touch.

Note the dummy before he controls the ball. Amad feints to the right slightly, implying that he was going to take the ball on his right foot and cut inside, or find a return pass to Garnacho. Instead, the winger let the ball run across his body and had plenty of space to attack because Bradley adjusted his feet to narrow the angle on the inside. It was a very clever move, which bought him more time

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From there, Amad took one touch to set himself before firing the ball across Caoimhin Kelleher with his stronger left foot, off the right-hand post and in. He was off balance and still under pressure from Bradley, but he stayed composed and finished the chance to seal the win for United in Fergie time. Cue wild celebrations inside Old Trafford.

Talent, Passion & An Opportunity

Amad’s 40-minute cameo yesterday was a good sample of exactly what he can bring to United’s first team. A winger by trade, his future may well lie in the centre of the pitch, as an advanced eight or a 10. He is a similar player to Bernardo Silva, whose career followed a similar path.

He loves Manchester United; this was obvious from watching his celebration and listening to his post-match interview. All Red Devils supporters undoubtedly love him now. It is uncommon to see a player receive a red card and then hear cheers from his own supporters as they walk down the tunnel.

Now, with the season hotting up, Amad has a huge opportunity to stake a claim to become a regular first-teamer for United. How he fits in remains to be seen, but he is a hugely talented player and deserves a proper chance. United supporters will always remember him for his goal against Liverpool, but perhaps he will have many more opportunities to leave an even greater legacy in the years to come.

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