Van de Beek replaced Marcus Rashford in the 84th minute and laid on a tap-in for Edinson Cavani in added time to seal United’s 3-1 win and take them to within eight points of Premier League leaders City.
Rashford is managing a foot injury but created Mason Greenwood’s opener and was unfortunate not to score himself. The 23-year-old has not completed 90 minutes since United beat West Ham on March 14 but United have a free midweek for the first time in the current campaign and Solskjaer was unconcerned by Rashford’s late removal.
Van de Beek has only started 12 times for United – twice in the league – and his last league start was in December at West Ham but United could play up to nine more games in the run-in.
“I asked him how he was because he played so well and I thought he played so well,” Solskjaer said of Rashford. “He felt good out there and he was trying to force the 90 minutes but he said he was too sore.
“It is just pain that comes after he has played for 60 or 70 minutes, he lasted for 80 today, so that was progress. I thought in the second-half he played so well. He made some great runs in the first-half as well but we couldn’t find him.
“In the end, Donny had to come on for him and Donny did well, so I was pleased with that one.”
Mason Greenwood was United’s matchwinner for the second time this month, having scored the decider against Brighton two weeks earlier. The 19-year-old’s brace took his tally for the season up to nine goals and Solskjaer is pleased with the variation of his finishes.
“He is a natural finisher and he’s a fantastic finisher,” Solskjaer said. “The improvement in his overall game has been there for everyone to see.
“I have always known he will score goals, that’s not an issue. I like the variety of his goals, both [of them] varied. Today, both with his left, last week against Tottenham went outside with his right, which is a big thing.
“And he has worked out himself that, ‘I can’t be just a one-trick pony to come inside on my left’. He did that today but last week was an example of how he’s worked on it.”