Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed Odion Ighalo’s predatory instincts and impact on Manchester United behind the scenes after the on-loan striker netted against Norwich City in the FA Cup on Saturday.
The 31-year-old continued his goalscoring form in cup competitions with the opener as the Red Devils saw off the Canaries 2-1 after extra-time in Saturday’s quarter-final.
After a goalless first-half at Carrow Road, Ighalo fired the visitors into the lead from close range in the 51st minute with his first shot of the game, prompting praise from his manager.
“It is great to have the option to rotate,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport. “Anthony Martial came on and did brilliant, but Odion gives me a chance to rotate.
“He’s a proven goalscorer and played his part in both goals,” the Norwegian coach continued. “He is a great person to have around the dressing room too.
“Odion knows how much we value him in and around the dressing room; he’s a goalscorer, a poacher, he’s strong, we can play the ball into him, he showed for the second and Paul [Pogba] found him.”
Todd Cantwell equalised for Norwich in the 75th minute with an effort from outside the box, but captain Harry Maguire scored an extra-time winner as he fired home as the hosts failed to clear their lines.
While Ighalo is yet to score in six Premier League outings for United, he’s proved to be an excellent option for Solskjaer in cup competitions.
He netted against Club Brugge in the Europa League, and scored twice away at Derby County in an FA Cup clash in early March as he made a strong first impression on his new fans after joining on loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
In Ighalo’s last start before this weekend, he scored one and contributed an assist as United thumped LASK 5-0 away in Europe, form which prompted United to extend his loan deal until early 2021.
“It was very important (to keep him at the club), that was important for me and we worked hard to do it,” Solskjaer concluded.
United, who are now unbeaten in their last 14 games across all competitions, travel to Brighton and Hove Albion in Tuesday’s Premier League encounter as they look to maintain pace in the race for Champions League qualification, before welcoming Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth on Saturday.
Currently, United are sixth having collected 49 points from 31 league outings.