It was a night when “dreams came true” for two emerging English talents.
Manchester United and Arsenal struggled for large parts of their respective Europa League openers, but by the end two teenagers announced themselves on the senior stage.
First, 18-year-old academy graduate Bukayo Saka scored his first senior goal, and set-up Arsenal’s other two, to help the Gunners beat Eintracht Frankfurt.
Then, 17-year-old Mason Greenwood, who has come through the United youth ranks, rescued Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side from a frustrating draw against Astana with his first goal for the club.
So who are they? What records have they broken and what are people saying about their futures?
- Greenwood scores first Man Utd goal in win over Astana
- Academy graduates shine as Arsenal beat Eintracht Frankfurt
‘Greenwood will be a United starter for years to come’
There are few better places for a Manchester United academy graduate to score their first goal than in front of the Stretford End.
United had been kept out by Kazakh side Astana for 73 minutes on Thursday before Greenwood cleverly cut on to his right foot and finished through the goalkeeper’s legs.
In doing so the striker became United’s youngest scorer in Europe and the first player born in the 2000s to score for the club.
Greenwood made his United debut in last season’s Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St-Germain, featured heavily in pre-season and came off the bench in the Reds’ first four Premier League games this season.
reminds him of United legend Ryan Giggs while his fellow United striker Marcus Rashford says his natural abilities are “frightening”.
After Greenwood’s match-winning performance against Astana, former Manchester United and England striker Michael Owen told BT Sport: “I really like Mason Greenwood and not just because of tonight.
“I’ve seen him many times in the youth team and he is a proper, proper player. He could be a Man Utd starter for years to come. I think he will be.”
‘He looked better than Pepe’
Saka was making just his fifth senior start as part of an inexperienced Arsenal forward line, alongside fellow academy graduates Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock and striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, but was the Gunners’ most impressive player in a tough game in Germany.
The winger set up Willock for the Arsenal’s opening goal, smashed in the second in the 85th minute, and teed up Aubameyang two minutes later.
He was a threat throughout with his pace and trickery on the left flank and the teenager’s goal made him Arsenal’s youngest scorer in Europe since Aaron Ramsey in October 2008.
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Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka: “I’m so happy to score for Arsenal, it’s a dream come true – I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid.
“I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again.”
Shades of Van Persie – what you said on #bbcfootball
Richard Berry: The way Greenwood moves reminds me a lot of Van Persie.
Stuart Mitchell: Greenwood is the best striker to come through the united academy in years, he will have a better goal scoring career than Rashford.
Emil, Stroud: I’ve been watching Mason Greenwood play for the youth team for years. The kids got bags of talent, a real star for the future.
Adam Salter: Saka has grown and grown and grown in this game. Looked nervous at the beginning, but that goal caps a brilliant performance. Easily the Man of the Match.
Fred, Hampshire: Two assists and a goal, looks like Saka may be knocking at the door after all.