Erik ten Hag hails ‘brilliant’ Man Utd star who helped rescue a point against Leeds

Manchester United came from two goals down on Wednesday to draw 2-2 with Leeds United.

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Erik ten Hag has praised Jadon Sancho as he continued his return to the Manchester United team on Wednesday night, and claimed the winger is ‘a brilliant footballer’.

Sancho came on in the second half of the Red Devils’ encounter with Leeds and he scored the equaliser as Ten Hag’s side fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Old Trafford. The attacker’s introduction, along with Facundo Pellistri’s, changed the course of the Premier League match following a disappointing opening hour.

It was just Sancho’s second performance for the team since late October, as he missed a prolonged period due to physical and mental reasons. But, having returned in last week’s win over Nottingham Forest, Sancho again came of the bench as United were held by with Leeds.

“I’m really happy he is in the right direction and I hope he can keep this momentum going,” claimed Ten Hag after the game. “I’m sure it will strengthen him and motivate him to do even more.

“You can see he is a brilliant footballer. If he is in the right levels he can perform outstandingly. I think we are a team who can now dictate games, playing more in the opponents’ halves.

“He likes that, he can play in tight areas and he can make a difference. The second goal showed it. But I also think when he came on last week and we have seen it as well.”

Ten Hag was also asked what Sancho has to do to ensure he remains at the same levels going forward. “That is in his own hands. If he wants, he can do [it],” replied the Dutchman.

“This team is great to play in, it will give you joy. I really enjoy seeing him play the way he did with so much confidence and belief, really direct. It was great to see him and to play in this attack.”

During Sancho’s extended period away from the team he spent some time training alone in the Netherlands and at Carrington before he rejoined the senior squad a few weeks ago. And Ten Hag said the former Borussia Dortmund man deserves credit for the character he showed during that tough spell.

“It is clear it was a difficult period, but he fought. He needs credit for that and I am pleased and proud he did it,” said the United boss. “So I will back him, the coaches and the team will back him and support him in this process.

“But he has to do it by himself and you can see when he is in the good levels he is an outstanding football player, he is brilliant and can make the difference. I hope he can stay in this mood and contribute to the team, score a lot of goals and create a lot of chances and assists.”

United drew 2-2 on Wednesday after Wilfried Gnonto put Leeds ahead inside the first minute, while a Raphael Varane own-goal doubled the advantage after the break. But Marcus Rashford’s header and Sancho’s curled effort ensured United claimed a point on a dramatic night at Old Trafford.