Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was quick to hand Harry Maguire a glowing assessment after the Manchester United captain’s extra-time winner at Norwich booked an FA Cup semi-final spot.
United had to dig deep against the Premier League’s bottom side at Carrow Road. Odion Ighalo’s fifth goal in four starts set United on their way, but Todd Cantwell equalised.
Timm Klose was sent off in the 89th minute for bringing down Ighalo. With Tim Krul delivering some extra-time heroics, Maguire reacted quickest to direct home in the 118th minute.
Maguire was the subject of some fierce criticism from Roy Keane during last week’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham.
But after his winner, Solskjaer could not have been prouder of the centre-half’s display.
Highlighting his leadership, heading and tackling ability, the United manager said: “Harry has been magnificent since he’s come to the club, his leadership skills are there to be seen, he helped us with the build-up.
“Today I think he won every single header and every challenge, so I’m very pleased with Harry.”
Maguire’s effort from close range at the death is his second goal in this season’s competition. He scored his first with a 25-yard pile-driver against Tranmere back in January.
Solskjaer added: “The two goals are two different goals and maybe two goals you don’t expect from him: one from 30 yards in the top corner and then a poacher’s goal.”
United became the first side to seal their spot in the last four and are just two wins from their first trophy under Solskjaer.
But while they extended their unbeaten sequence in all competitions to 14 matches, Maguire knows they must vastly improve.
“It would mean everything (to win the FA Cup),” Maguire told the BBC. “I joined this club to win trophies. We’re in a semi-final of the FA Cup, it’s a great tournament, and we’re going to look forward to it.
“Hopefully when the semi-final does come, and whoever we’re drawn against, we play a lot better than we have done tonight. It was a difficult game and we made hard work of it.”
Solskjaer praise for Ighalo
Solskjaer also had warm words for Ighalo. The Nigerian continued his record of scoring at least once in every United game he’s started.
The Norwegian said: “Odion knows how much we value him around the dressing room and on the pitch.
“He’s a goalscorer and a poacher. Odion is strong and we can play the ball into him like we did on the winning goal.
“He’s performing well and that also gives me the chance to rotate with Marcus (Rashford), Anthony (Martial) and Mason (Greenwood). It’s good they can get a rest and be fresh for every game.”