By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Erik ten Hag praised Alejandro Garnacho for taking another step in his development after the 18-year-old inspired Manchester United to a late comeback victory against West Ham in the FA Cup.
Three days after winning the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle at Wembley, the Red Devils refocused on a fifth-round clash that had looked to be getting away from them on Wednesday.
Said Benrahma put West Ham into a deserved lead but their night went downhill rapidly from the 77th minute onwards.
Nayef Aguerd’s own goal drew United level and Fred wrapped up a 3-1 victory in stoppage time after Garnacho had turned the tie around with his fine 90th-minute goal.
“I see today another step,” manager Ten Hag said of the teenager. “I tell him before the game ‘it’s getting time you had an impact when you come on, but now you need to have impact as a starter’.
“I think he is capable of it so that is the next step he needs to take.
“That (fearlessness) is one of his skills. But definitely it is a great skill when you are fearless, when you are brave.
“He is one of the players that I think has a skill that is so specific.
“There are not so many players in world football who can take players on, who are capable of just going at players and out dribble them.
“But he has more skill than only that, for example, finishing.
“I see he also has a big engine. He is fast and has speed, but he can keep running for 90 minutes or 120 minutes.”
Garnacho was named man of the match for his impact on just his 10th start as a United player.
The Argentina youth international will hog the headlines but Ten Hag was quick to praise Wout Weghorst, who has only scored once in his 13 appearances since joining on loan in January but is having impact.
“I think he was one of the best players on the pitch,” the United boss said.
“I think he was involved – I have to see the corner back but I think he was there in front, he came up with Harry (Maguire) to force the own goal.
“I think the goal from Garnacho he was pressing in the switch of play.
“(He had) a role in the third goal where he was giving a good press and forced the opponent to make a mistake where Fred can score.
“But I think he understands positioning in and out of possession. He is doing a really job for the team.”
Brilliance from Benrahma 💫 https://t.co/eW7LlyTIfW
— West Ham United (@WestHam) March 1, 2023
Asked if the next step for Weghorst is adding goals to his game, Ten Hag said: “Of course but that will come.
“I have the experience with so many players and I refer to (Marcus) Rashford. In the start of the season he also didn’t score in every game.
“But I know in my experience that it will come when he is more settled down. Now he has had a lot of games with us but not a long period.
“When he is longer here the routines will be here. When he has the first goal more will come.”
United’s reward is a home quarter-final clash against Fulham, with West Ham returning to London bemoaning a missed chance.
Hammers boss David Moyes said: “We had a great opportunity to get through tonight and we blew it in my eyes.
“I thought we had a great chance to get through. Really did.
“We played well for the best part of I felt like 80 minutes and just couldn’t see it through.
“We could have got a second goal but while we didn’t get a second goal we had to make sure we didn’t concede.
“We ended up giving away a couple of really ridiculous goals.”