The Champions League last-16 first leg was an opportunity for the England youngster to strut his stuff on the biggest stage. The names and the footballing icons that have graced the pitch at the Bernabeu are immense and numerous but young Welbeck was one of Manchester United’s standout performers.
His header early in the first half opened the scoring – he is not reputed as an aerial threat in general but he got up well and accurately deflected the corner down into the back of Madrid’s net.
However, his goal was one of the least spectacular sides of his game on the night – his electric pace and intelligent movement off the ball made him a real danger and difficult for Real to deal with.
His passing and dribbling were superb and he used his skill to relieve his side of pressure all the way until his substitution for Antonio Valencia just over a quarter of an hour before the final whistle.
He has been fourth-choice striker for the majority of this season for United – behind Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Javier Hernandez who have all been in fine form and fitness for most of the season.
Welbeck has clearly been biding his time on the bench and last night, when he got his first big opportunity to start in a massive game, he didn’t disappoint his manager. Along with David De Gea, he was an obvious contender for Man of the Match.
Whilst his chances have been few and far between in domestic football this season and his form underwhelming and inconsistent at times, last night’s display could very well have caught the eye of people who hadn’t heard of him before.
He is not one of United’s big name stars – in England he has just started to work his way into Roy Hodgson’s starting line-up and with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Theo Walcott and young United signing Wilfried Zaha as his competition for his preferred positions for his country, his rise to the challenge couldn’t have been more timely for the 22-year-old.
With the World Cup in Brazil just around the corner, performances like last night’s won’t have done him any harm – it will have raised his profile as one of England’s most exceptional young prospects and made him more valuable to his club from a commercial perspective.
Every true football fan in the world will have been watching last night and, from that performance, they will have gauged that Danny Welbeck is a very very good player.
image: © vagueonthehow