Monday, April 06, 2009

Cool-headed Macheda set for stardom

Not too many people had heard of Federico Macheda before Sunday, but the Manchester United youngster looks like being in the headlines for several years to come.

The 17-year-old was introduced as a second-half substitute as the champions chased the game at Old Trafford against Aston Villa and what an introduction to English football the Rome-born youngster made.

With the game in stoppage time at 2-2 Macheda picked the ball up on the edge of the box, escaped the clutches of a Villa defender with a Cruyff turn before curling a superb right-foot shot into the corner of the net to give United a crucial 3-2 win.

It was what dreams are made of as a debutant and a sublime piece of skill from the youngster, who was quickly slotted into United’s reserves this season after a fabulous goalscoring run in the youth team.

"I think this is the day of my dreams - to score a goal like that on my debut," said Macheda, known as ‘Kiko’, after his match-winning strike.

His goal fired United back to the Premier League summit and the champions are still the bookies’ 1.36 Premier League favourites to retain their crown.

United Under-18 boss Paul McGuinness rates Macheda, the starlet United picked up from Lazio, very highly indeed and his coolness in front of goal for the second string has also impressed reserve-team boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The fact that Sir Alex Ferguson had both Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov unavailable for Sunday’s game opened the door for Macheda - whose close control and cool head look certain to catapult him to future stardom.

By Phil Tomlinson

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