There is no doubt the spotlight has been well and truly on new Man Utd goalkeeper Andre Onana after what can only be described as a shaky start to his Old Trafford career.
The Cameroon international was meant to be the man to bring stability back to the No 1 position at United after David de Gea’s decline in form during his last few years at the club, arriving last summer from Inter Milan in a £47.2m deal with a huge reputation.
However, it is fair to say Onana has so far failed to live up to expectations at United after a number of high-profile gaffes in the first two months of the campaign, with each costly error increasing the pressure on the 24-year-old.
That is until Tuesday night when Onana came to United’s rescue with what could turn out to be hugely significant – a stoppage-time penalty save to preserve his side’s 1-0 lead over FC Copenhagen in a must-win game in Group A for Erik ten Hag’s side.
Not just for United, though, but the player himself, who may look back on that moment in years to come as being the turning point in both United’s and his own season.
If Onana has endured an awkward start to his Manchester United career, Harry Maguire’s time in the shirt had appeared all but over prior to the injury crisis that has allowed him a path back into the team. The England man deserves credit for seizing that chance.
Goals can cloud the narrative with defenders but this was about more than the winner that he scored to secure Manchester United’s first points of the Champions League season. There has been a change in his game, one acknowledged by Erik ten Hag afterwards.
“He is playing much more proactive in possession, stepping in, passing vertically, defending also on the front foot, defending forward, very confident in the duels, I think he is dominating in the right way with his aggression against opponents.”
There was an example of that just before his breakthrough goal, rushing forward to beat his marker to the ball and sustain the attack for his team. It drew a positive reaction from the Old Trafford crowd, finally some positive energy for Maguire to feed off.
There is a long way to go. His only start this season prior to this run of games against Brentford, Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen came at home to Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup. Bigger tests await, starting with Manchester City on Sunday.
A superb turn and a defence-splitting pass for Arsenal’s first, then a brilliant curling finish for the second, Gabriel Jesus looked like someone at home in the Champions League and looking at his record, you can’t be surprised.
The Brazilian made it 23 goals in 41 appearances in Europe’s premier club competition – including 14 goal contributions in his last 17 Champions League starts – during Arsenal’s important Champions League win in Sevilla and his vital experience was on show in Spain.
Remember, this is still a young Arsenal voyaging on unchartered waters. Even the strong-headed stars like Bukayo Saka are playing in their first Champions League campaign, Gabriel Martinelli even made his debut in the competition on Tuesday night.
But what was the perfect tonic for these young attacking stars? Jesus putting it on a plate for Martinelli late in the first half, before the Arsenal No 9 showed his fellow Brazilian how big moments are done in style at this level. And that’s three goals in three Champions League group games this season.
These margins are vital, which is why Jesus’ hamstring injury scare is a real “concern” for Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta put it. Jesus cannot miss another chunk of a Premier League title race, his experience is too valuable.
In the end it was a big win for Arsenal but my goodness it was edgy at times – particularly in those final few moments of the game.
Arsenal were slow out of the blocks again – but Sevilla couldn’t take advantage. Martinelli’s excellent finish before half-time calmed a few nerves and Arsenal looked in control after Jesus’ wonder strike. That was until a set-piece cost them again.
In the build-up, Arteta and midfielder Jorginho talked about controlling their emotions in this hostile environment and the need to dig deep to come through a real test. “There were moments when we were very dominant and then we had to suffer, and it’s necessary to suffer to win a game,” the Arsenal manager said after the game.
Given Arsenal’s record in Europe in Spain going into this one – they had lost five out of their last six before this game – the win feels like a big moment for this group.
Gail Davis in Seville