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Erik ten Hag said Manchester United’s future is “very bright” after Rasmus Hojlund and Alejandro Garnacho starred in a 3-0 win over West Ham on Sunday, but victory came at a cost as Lisandro Martinez suffered a serious-looking knee injury.
United’s blushes were saved by 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo in a dramatic late 4-3 win over Wolves on Thursday and had two more young stars to thank for a more routine three points at Old Trafford.
Hojlund’s long wait to break his Premier League duck is now long forgotten as the Dane marked his 21st birthday by scoring in a fourth consecutive league game.
Garnacho, 19, then took centre stage as his deflected effort early in the second half doubled United’s lead before he rounded off the scoring six minutes from time.
“I have said it before in the last couple of months, the future for Manchester United is very bright,” said Ten Hag.
“We have some real high potentials, we can play fluid football, speed it up as we need and defend well.
“The goals today showed young players with high potential. They get used to the Premier League standards. Every game they are growing and improving and adapting to a higher level.
“When they enjoy their football the confidence comes and you can see the belief is growing.”
Victory moved United above West Ham into sixth in the Premier League table and within six points of fifth-placed Tottenham.
‘Very bad’ Martinez injury
But their quest to reach the Champions League next season could be dealt a big blow if Martinez is ruled out again long-term.
The Argentine World Cup winner only recently returned from a foot injury that has kept him out for most of the season.
“We have to find out the next days what the diagnosis. It is very bad, very bad for him and the team,” added Ten Hag.
“He is just returning. He is very important for us. He brings spirit to the team, aside from his football ability.”
Former United boss David Moyes’ long wait for a win at Old Trafford as a visiting manager in the Premier League goes on as the Hammers failed to make the most of enjoying the better of the first half.
Andre Onana made a fine save to turn Edson Alvarez’s header from a corner to safety and parried a long-range drive from Ben Johnson.
At the other end, Hojlund showed he is a striker brimming with confidence as he turned onto his weaker right foot and slammed a low shot past Alphonse Areola with his first sight of goal on 23 minutes.
“A month ago there was a lot of talk about us (Hojlund and Garnacho) not scoring enough goals but we are both young and growing every day,” said Hojlund. “You can see the connection between us.”
If United’s quality was on display for the opener, they had fortune on their side for the second as Garnacho’s effort was headed down the throat of substitute goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski until it took a wicked deflection off Nayef Aguerd.
Diogo Dalot made a brilliant recovery challenge to block Jarrod Bowen’s shot with West Ham’s biggest chance of the match.
But Martinez’s injury took the shine off a fine result for United when his knee appeared to buckle under the weight of Vladimir Coufal as the pair battled for possession on the by-line.
Kalvin Phillips had been left out by Moyes after gifting Bournemouth an early opener in West Ham’s 1-1 draw on Thursday on his debut.
The Manchester City loanee had another moment to forget for United’s third goal as he was robbed in possession by Scott McTominay and the Scot teed up Garnacho to fire home his seventh goal of the season.