Manchester United's striker Mason Greenwood (L) celebrates with Manchester United's Spanish midfielder Juan Mata (R) after scoring their fourth goal during the UEFA Europa League group L football match between Manchester United and AZ Almaar at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 12, 2019
This Man Utd star's performance against AZ Alkmaar signals big things for Solskjaer - Here is why 4

Why Pereira’s performance against AZ Alkmaar was key for Man United

Manchester United flew out of the blocks after a lacklustre first-half at the AFAS Stadion against AZ Alkmaar last Thursday and Ashley Young finished off a slick move to break the deadlock in the second half.

Solskjaer’s men grew in confidence as the Europa League Group L clash wore on and Mason Greenwood showed his immense talent with a terrific double on either side of Juan Mata’s 62nd-minute penalty. United’s 4-0 victory, their third win on the bounce in all competitions, secured a seeding ahead of the last-32 draw.

Andreas Pereira was a star performer even as Brandon Williams led the way with surging runs forward from left-back. On the other flank, Young scored United’s first. Greenwood then took over with a masterful second-half performance, creating chances, winning a penalty and scoring impressive goals.

United scored four goals in an 11-minute spell and it led to the demolition of a strong defensive team.

Juan Mata has been directly involved in three goals (one goal, two assists) in a single European match for the first time since March 2013
Mata in action (Image credit: Getty)

Manchester United really have turned a page under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. This felt like the start of a new chapter with a twist in the plot. For months, the Red Devils have been stuck in the same old plot, a tiresome narrative with all the same failings, pitfalls and character flaws. An inconsistent team stuck in a cycle of mediocrity – excellent one week, dreadful the next.​

One man who performed tremendously was Andreas Pereira. After a dismal performance against Aston Villa in the Premier League, the youngster certainly silenced some of the critics on Thursday night. Pereira had five total shots on goal, made three tackles, had 64 touches of the ball and an impressive 89% pass accuracy.

Andreas Pereira strides forward for United
Andreas was fantastic against Alkmaar (Image credit: Getty)

A draw would have been enough for United to win the group but they needed to show something that changed perceptions, not reinforced them.​ And that they did, superbly. They were bright and inventive, full of flair and vision as they went about destroying the Dutch team in a stunning burst of play that brought four goals in the space of just 11 minutes.

This might just be the beginning of things to come as Solskjaer appears to have finally gotten his tactics right at Old Trafford.