Wout Weghorst, the Dutch forward on loan from Burnley to Manchester United, was close to tears after scoring against Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday night. Weghorst had hit the headlines in recent days after footage emerged of him touching the ‘This is Anfield’ sign before the 7-0 demolition to Liverpool at the weekend. This caused fury among United fans as it is usually a tradition just for Liverpool players to carry out while the Red Devils are the club’s biggest rivals.
However, Weghorst struck back after a show of faith from Erik ten Hag, who named him in the starting XI to face Real Betis in the Europa League at Old Trafford. In need of a good performance, United went out and put the Spanish side to the sword in a 4-1 mauling to all-but end their European tie ahead of the second leg next Thursday. And it was Weghorst who grabbed the fourth goal, latching onto a rebound quickest from Scott McTominay’s shot to score his first goal for the club in the Europa League since arriving on loan from Burnley.
The Netherlands international raced away to the South Stand where the fans serenaded him as he looked close to tears after an emotional week for the striker. It’s just the second goal Weghorst has scored since arriving at Old Trafford, netting in the Carabao Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest. Marcus Rashford, who also scored against Real Betis, was full of joy to see his United teammate on the scoresheet. He said: “As a forward he gets joy from scoring goals. As good as he works hard and does other stuff he wants to score goals so everyone is pleased for him.”
Meanwhile, Man United legend Paul Scholes said: “Everyone at the club will be pleased for him… you could see how happy people were for him. He does a lot of hard work which people don’t always see.” United went a goal up in just the sixth minute against Real Betis when Rashford smashed one past former Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Ex-Newcastle ace Ayoze Perez, on loan from Leicester, grabbed an equaliser but the Red Devils ran riot after the break.
Antony scored a belter from his trademark position, cutting in on his left foot before Bruno Fernandes headed home from a Luke Shaw corner. United did not stop there and were desperate to put the tie to bed and Weghorst was rewarded for his non-stop work-rate with a late goal. And it acts as a form of redemption from Sunday when the Red Devils were demolished 7-0 by Liverpool in the club’s worst league defeat since Boxing Day 1931.
Weghorst responded to the backlash surrounding him touching the Anfield sign by insisting that he only did it to wind up national team-mate Virgil van Dijk. In a statement posted on social media, he said: “Normally I never react on media topics, but for this one, it’s worth it because you amazing United fans are important to me. So I just want to clarify the video that is doing the rounds. From the national team, I know that Virgil always touches that sign and I went to stop him touching it to try and wind him up before the game.
“As a child I always supported FC Twente, and as a proud player now for Manchester United, my dedication to this incredible club can never be questioned. Sunday was a terrible day for all of us. We are putting everything into making it right in the next weeks. We will bounce back together and achieve our aims this season!”