With the score at 0-0 in the first half, Antony received the ball out on the right hand side. In a swift move as he controlled the ball, the Brazilian deftly spun in a circle twice, with the ball glued to his foot.
However, he overshadowed the impressive skill by butchering his attempted through-ball that followed. The pass instead sailed out of play for a goal kick.
After the match, Erik ten Hag shared his thoughts on Antony and his showboating.
“I don’t have a problem with tricks as long as they’re functional,” said the Man United boss, via BBC Sport. “When there is a trick like that, it’s nice as long as it’s functional. If you’re not losing the ball, then it’s okay. But if it’s a trick because of a trick, then I will correct him.
“I demand more from him [Antony] – more runs behind, more often in the box, and more playing in the pocket.”
Brazilian’s half-time substitution was “planned”
Just minutes after the showboating – with the score at 1-0 to United – Ten Hag subbed off Antony during the half-time break. But the Dutchman confirmed that his player’s trick had nothing to do with the change.
“No. It was more or less planned if we were leading,” confirmed Ten Hag when asked about the substitution of Antony. “I wanted to see Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo close together and the dynamic on the right side.”
So, overall, Antony’s boss does not seem to be too bothered by the use of his trademark skill. Meanwhile, former pros doing punditry were less than impressed.
Pundits criticise Antony for showboating
Commentating during the game, Robbie Savage did not mince his words about Antony’s skill and the incomplete pass.
“That for me is ridiculous,” said Savage, via BT Sport’s Twitter. “He’s done that [spin] and then he puts the ball out of play. It’s quite embarrassing, actually.
“If I was the manager, I would not be happy.”
Similarly, the “Antony spin” left Man United legend Paul Scholes unimpressed, too. As an in-studio pundit for the game last night, Scholes branded Antony a “clown”.
“I just don’t know what the skill achieves,” said Scholes, via Daily Mail. “I love a bit of showboating, but at least get the pass right.
“Does that do anything for anybody? Does that do anything for him? I’d have to ask him – even at 4-0 up what does that do for you? I just don’t think it’s a skill or entertainment, it’s just being a clown.”
Additionally, the former Red Devils midfielder said that the showboating needs “knocking out of” Antony.
The Brazilian’s on-pitch flair actually took attention away from a comfortable Man United victory.
Man United 3-0 Sheriff Tiraspol
Throughout the match, the Red Devils completely overwhelmed the visiting team. United had 75% possession and 24 shots at goal. In contrast, Sheriff failed to register a shot at David de Gea’s goal.
Despite the dominance, it took nearly the whole first half for Man United to take the lead. Diogo Dalot grabbed the home side’s first goal with a header from a corner.
At the start of the second half, Erik ten Hag introduced Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, and Luke Shaw. And the manager’s substitutions paid off as Shaw and Rashford combined for United’s second goal.
Rashford met his teammate’s fizzed cross with a fine header, with the ball then flying into the back of the net to double United’s advantage.
Later on in the game, Cristiano Ronaldo got a much-needed goal, slamming home a rebound from his own saved header.
The result means that the Red Devils can still finish top of Group E and avoid playing a team that drops down from the Champions League. Teams that finish second in the UEL play clubs that finished third in their Champions League group.
However, United need to win their last game against Real Sociedad by at least two goals in order to claim first place in the group.
Featured image credit: Getty