Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singled out Axel Tuanzebe and Victor Lindelof for their performances in Manchester United‘s 2-0 win over Granada.
United secured a 4-0 aggregate win to progress to the Europa League semi-finals despite the absence of regular defenders Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw through suspension.
Maguire’s ban and Eric Bailly’s positive test for Covid-19 allowed Tuanzebe to come in for his first start in nearly four months and the 23-year-old helped United keep their fifth clean sheet in six Europa League ties this term.
Lindelof recovered from an error for Tottenham’s goal on Sunday to lead impressively and Solskjaer felt the centre-backs were United’s standout performers against Granada.
“Top, absolutely delighted for him because he’s had a difficult spell,” Solskjaer said. “Victor and Harry have done really well, Eric – when he’s played – has played really well, Axel has played fourth fiddle.
“He’s been very patient, worked really hard and tonight I thought him and Victor were our outstanding performers, they kept us from any real pressure, they defended whatever came against them and towards the end a couple of corners, Axel heads the corners away. Delighted for him.”
Paul Pogba was substituted at half-time after he was booked in the first-half and some Granada players attempted to have him dismissed for a second foul.
Pogba captained United for the first time since March 2019 against the La Liga side after Bruno Fernandes skippered United at home against Real Sociedad in the round-of-32. Like Fernandes, Pogba made way at the interval.
“I didn’t want to risk a scenario where he went into a tackle and was a bit late,” Solskjaer explained. “Paul went into a couple of tackles, he went in fairly, won a few. He got a couple of fouls against him that I didn’t think were fouls. There was no point in risking it, really.
“Donny needed a game and he did well but Paul’s a leader on and off the pitch and I’ve got quite a few of them so it could easily have been given to Bruno, David or Nemanja, there’s many of them.
“But whoever’s captain apparently gets taken off, so that’s probably the bad omen for today!”