In hot and humid conditions at the Rajamangala Stadium, Zidane Iqbal was the coolest man on the ground as he sent Fabinho sideways with a clever dummy.
Pressure has always been something on Iqbal’s shoulders. His first name alone brings great expectations, yet based on how he performed yesterday the name feels almost appropriate.
Despite usually playing higher up in midfield, he adjusted almost perfectly to a deeper role yesterday alongside childhood friend Charlie Savage.
Whilst they were up against arguably Liverpool’s strongest midfield for the final half hour of yesterday’s game, they looked like they were having a kickabout in the park.
Liverpool’s intense gegenpressing style can cause even the best of midfielders major issues but the two teenagers remained unfazed.
Iqbal in particular shone, constantly showing himself for the ball in deeper areas and sometimes drifting higher up to receive and provide an option to relieve pressure.
His spatial awareness was key to this, he always seemed to occupy the right areas regardless of what possession phase he was in.
Also key was his intelligent decision making in possession and clever use of his body - the feint on Fabinho being the standout example of this.
Every time the No.73 received the ball, he kept it and did a great job at moving it forwards too.
Iqbal at one point played an excellent, almost Zidane-esque ball over the top to Elanga who went through on goal but could not keep himself onside.
His technical quality was on show all over the game, and his game intelligence was clear to see too. The way he controlled the ball under pressure and used his body to smoothly evade it every time felt reminiscent of his opposite number, Liverpool's Thiago.
Iqbal recently signed a brand new deal at Manchester United – a sign of the club's trust in the talented young midfielder to become a key player for them in the years going forward, and the player is grateful.
Speaking to MUTV after the win, he said “Playing a very strong Liverpool team and obviously coming away with the win, I’d just like to thank the manager for putting his trust in me and Sav, you know?”
He further commented on his tour experience, “[I’m] feeling excited, first tour. Honestly, it’s been boiling, the sweat, but it’s only going to help us with the season.”
Coming from a Pakistani father and Iraqi mother, Zidane Iqbal is from a background that is heavily under-represented in the game.
It was a particularly special moment when he made his Manchester United debut in the Champions League last December as he became the first British South Asian to play both for United and in the competition.
Iqbal is an excellent talent, one of the brightest in what is United’s strongest crop of academy players in over a decade.
Whilst not a generational talent in the sense of a Kylian Mbappe, he is pioneering the way for an entire generation of talented players from backgrounds similar to his own.
The impact the 19-year-old has already had is a big one, and by the time he is done he could be one of the most influential players the game has seen in his own unique way.
I, and many others like me, will be rooting for him along his way, and the only way is up for him. Zidane Iqbal is a star in the making, and he shone in Bangkok.
Featured Image Credit: Manchester United
Topics: Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag, Marcus Rashford, Football, Liverpool