Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has expressed his delight after Eric Bailly made his first appearance of the season for the club. The Ivorian has been sidelined for most of the current campaign following his knee ligament injury in pre-season and that meant that he had spent the past few months under rehabilitation.
On Monday night, Solskjaer chose to hand Bailly with his maiden appearance of the campaign with Victor Lindelof down with an illness and the Ivorian proved his worth with a calm and collective performance in a back three involving Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire. While Shaw and Maguire fared impressively with multiple clearances and interceptions on the night, Bailly equally excelled as he managed to make three key blocks.
He managed to restrict Willian and Michy Batshuayi from testing the goalkeeper during the opening half and repeated the feat after the break as he blocked Mateo Kovacic’s shot with a last-ditch challenge. That capped off the perfect return to first-team action for Bailly with a clean sheet and Solskjaer was undoubtedly pleased with the defender’s display.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, he told: “Absolutely fantastic wasn’t he?It’s not a bad conundrum because Eric’s a top defender, and it’s his first game since we played Chelsea last year in the league in April. He’s such a top, top defender and his block from Kovacic there was just out of this world defending. He’s quick, he strong, brave, brave as a lion. It’s great to have him back.”
With the 2-0 triumph over Chelsea, United have enhanced their Champions League qualification prospects for next season. They are currently three points behind the Blues on the table for the fourth spot while there are only two adrift of Spurs, who are holding onto the fifth spot. The fifth position guarantees a Champions League berth at the moment with Manchester City banned for the next two years from European competitions. Of course, the Citizens can appeal at the CAS to possibly overturn the embargo during the summer.