Henrikh Mkhitaryan vowed to help Manchester United continue their Premier League resurgence after netting the best goal of his career.
Initial struggles to break into the squad, never mind the line-up, have become a thing of the past for the talented Armenian, who has rapidly become a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford.
Mkhitaryan netted in a third successive match on Boxing Day and few can have opened their United account with three better goals after he followed up his excellent solo goal at Zorya Luhansk and drive against Tottenham.
Back from an ankle complaint, the 27-year-old substitute met a cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic with an ‘scorpion’ kick towards the end of the 3-1 win against Sunderland.
Jose Mourinho called the goal “phenomenal” and Mkhitaryan freely admits it was the greatest of his career to date.
“That was the best goal I’ve ever scored,” he told MUTV. “I was very excited.
“The first thing I did was look at the assistant and I saw it was not ruled as offside so I just started to celebrate.
“I was expecting the ball to be in front of me and then I realised I was in front of it.
“As the ball was behind me, the only thing I could do was a backheel so I did that and I succeeded.”
Mkhitaryan was fortunate not to see the offside flag raised against him, but few would argue that it altered the outcome or that United did not deserve victory.
Daley Blind’s low strike put them up heading into the break, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan scoring late on before a superb consolation goal from Fabio Borini.
It was United’s fourth straight Premier League win and Mkhitaryan wants to extend that run in the New Year’s Eve clash with Middlesbrough, which the attacking midfielder may well start after overcoming his ankle complaint.
“I don’t have anything of concern from a past injury so I’m happy to be back to help the team,” the substitute said.
“I will try to do my best for the next game. It’s very important that we’re in good shape and to keep going like this.”
United captain Wayne Rooney is a doubt for the Boro clash due to a thigh injury he felt during training on Christmas Day.
“Honestly, I don’t think so,” Mourinho said when asked if Rooney would be fit to face Boro.
“I hope so. I would like. He is always a player I would like to have, but I have my little doubts. Let’s see the evolution.”