Eric Bailly’s contribution for Manchester United at Swansea City will be recorded in the headlines for his first career goal, but his performance was so much more than that as he produced a dominant display.
In truth, the Ivory Coast international’s day got off to a nightmare start as his rebound bounced back off of Jordan Ayew and set the striker on his way, racing through and almost giving his side the lead in the opening minutes only for his curled effort to hit the cross bar and come back into play.
From then on, United’s number three stepped up his game and was a reliable figure at the heart of the Manchester United defence. Alongside Phil Jones in the central defensive pairing, Bailly provided some much needed steel and was crucial to United’s aerial strength and keeping Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham quiet.
His strength played a big part in that, but so too did his strength in the air. His reading of the game was also important, as it helped him to intercept moves before they could pick up on the England under 21 international’s movement in and around him as he tried to find half a yard of space.
It was that anticipation which earned him his first goal. Whilst the Swansea defence stood watching on as Paul Pogba’s header cannoned off the crossbar, Bailly was the first to the ball and got his studs onto it to ensure that it crossed the line and gave his side an all important lead going into the half-time break.
Bailly had been busy and had his work cut out at spells in the first half, but his dominant defending saw that his strike would be enough to set his side on their way to victory. Bailly seems increasingly to be the leader at the back for Jose Mourinho, and he will be hoping that the centre-back can sustain this superb form across the season.