Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Odion Ighalo’s predatory instincts and his impact on Manchester United behind the scenes after the loan striker faced Norwich City in the FA Cup on Saturday.
The 31-year-old continued his way of scoring goals in cup competitions with the opening game when the Red Devils beat the Canaries 2-1 after extra time in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
After a goalless first half on Carrow Road, Ighalo shot the visitors up front from close range in the 51st minute with his first shot of the game, drawing praise from his manager.
“It’s great to have the option to rotate,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport. “Anthony Martial came in and did great, but Odion gives me a chance to rotate.
“He is a proven scorer and played his part in both goals,” continued the Norwegian coach. “He is also a great person to have around the locker room.
Odion knows how much we value him in and around the locker room; he is a scorer, a poacher, he is strong, we can play the ball against him, he showed for the second and Paul [Pogba] Find them.”
Todd Cantwell equalized Norwich in the 75th minute with an effort from outside the box, but captain Harry Maguire scored an extra time winner when he shot home as the hosts were unable to clear their lines.
While Ighalo has yet to score in six Premier League outings for United, he has proven to be an excellent option for Solskjaer in cup competitions.
He scored against Club Brugge in the Europa League and scored twice in Derby County in an FA Cup clash in early March, as he made a strong first impression on his new fans after joining loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
In Ighalo’s last start before this weekend, he scored one and contributed an assist, as United defeated LASK 5-0 in Europe, prompting United to extend its loan contract until early 2021.
“It was very important (keeping him at the club), that was important to me and we worked hard to do it,” Solskjaer concluded.