Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

Odion Ighalo opens his account for Manchester United during emotional Europa League win - in pics

Nigerian dedicates performance to late sister after 5-0 win over Club Brugge

Odion Ighalo scored his first goal for Manchester United during a comprehensive 5-0 win over Club Brugge in the Europa League and dedicated his performance to his his sister who passed away in December.

The Nigerian, who took a pay cut to secure a move to Old Trafford from China's Shanghai Shenhua last month, tapped home Juan Mata's pass in the first half as United progressed to the last 16.

"As a fellow striker myself, I know how important that first goal is and he's been close a couple of times," manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose team won 6-1 on aggregate, said.

"You can see he sniffs goals, he wants to be there, where it sometimes hurts. That goal, he was sharp in his head and as that ball is played over to Juan, he spins and was on the six-yard line when Juan puts it there. That's a natural striker."

After celebrating his goal, Ighalo, 30, lifted his shirt to reveal a vest with photograph of his late sister Mary Atole who died on December 2 at her home in Canada.

"She was a good United fan too. We hoped for this moment but now I'm at United, she's not here to see what is going on," Ighalo told the club's website.

"It's emotional. I have promised myself that every goal I score, I'll dedicate it to her. She's up there watching me."

Ighalo, who is on loan to United until the end of the season, looks certain to get more game time as fellow forward Anthony Martial was a last-minute absentee from Thursday's match due to injury and is a doubt for Sunday's Premier League game at Everton.

United are also missing striker Marcus Rashford with a back problem.

Bruno Fernandes had fired United ahead with a 27th-minute penalty, which also produced a red card for Bruges defender Simon Deli. The centre back was dismissed after he dived in goalkeeping fashion to handle a Daniel James shot before Fernandes sent Simon Mignolet the wrong way with the spot-kick.

Scot McTominay made it 3-0 with a fine shot from 18 metres just before the break and Brazilian midfielder Fred put the icing on the cake with a late brace.

Updated: February 28, 2020 09:53 AM

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