Hernandez looks hungry for his Premier League chance with City
After an exciting return to Carrow Road action from Onel Hernandez at the weekend, David Freezer takes a closer look at the positive influence the speedy winger can have on Daniel Farke’s team.
Norwich City supporters had been looking forward to the exciting pace and direct running of Onel Hernandez returning to Daniel Farke's arsenal - and the winger has looked hungry for his Premier League chance.
The Cuban was introduced as City made two half-time changes during Sunday's 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United, replacing youngster Todd Cantwell as Marco Stiepermann also came on for Moritz Leitner in midfield.
They may not have been able to salvage any points but Hernandez certainly added more attacking threat and in just 45 minutes attempted more dribbles (eight) than any other player on the pitch during the whole game.
Not all of them were successful - in fact just three were, according to WhoScored.com - but Hernandez's running clearly gave the resurgent Red Devils something new to deal with.
The big problem was that the 26-year-old was coming up against an in-form right-back in Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who United signed from Crystal Palace for £50million this summer, having been named the Eagles' player of the season.
Wan-Bissaka has been in recent England squads and it was clear to see why, making 11 tackles during his team's win at Carrow Road, becoming just the second Premier League player to manage that defensive high in a game so far this season.
That impressive stat owes much to how the 21-year-old dealt with Hernandez in such determined fashion - that did include surviving a penalty call though.
Just five minutes after coming on and with the score still at 2-0, City's speedy attacker was clattered into by the United full-back as he charged into the box after a lovely pass from deep from Emi Buendia.
With Teemu Pukki having just missed a golden chance and with Tim Krul having made two penalty saves during the first half, all of a sudden belief was swirling around the stadium - as the big screen informed spectators that a VAR check was under way.
It looked like City were about to get a penalty opportunity of their own, only for an offside to be spotted and those hopes to be swiftly extinguished.
After hesitating on a shot too long just after the hour mark it was Wan-Bissaka who was there again to thwart the former Eintracht Braunschewig man in the 64th minute, lunging into a tackle on halfway that he had to get right to avoid severe punishment - and absolutely nailing it to halt Hernandez.
Scott McTominay had to drag the wide man down as he broke clear soon after, with the free-kick resulting in Wan-Bissaka thwarting a Stiepermann shot after some Buendia trickery.
And it was with Stiepermann that Hernandez exchanged a fine one-two in the 71st minute, cutting back to Buendia only for Fred to superbly track the Argentine and again frustrate the increasingly desperate Canaries.
Two minutes later it was game over, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford linked brilliantly to finally kill off the hosts' resistance - and the substitute's hopes of becoming the hero.
With Krul, Ibrahim Amadou and Buendia all left limping through to full-time, and with City having made their three permitted substitutions, it was too late for Hernandez to salvage things.
The former Germany Under-18 international still gave it a good crack though, having already kept United keeper David De Gea awake with a low shot from the edge of the box.
He seized on a loose touch from McTominay and burst forward with pace, cutting into space just inside the box as £80million defender Harry Maguire got sucked to the ball, and lashing low into the bottom-right corner past De Gea in the 87th minute.
In the first of six minutes of added time, tenacious work from Sam Byram allowed Pukki to set Hernandez away on the left and again the winger cut on to his right foot on the edge of the box, only to drag his low shot just wide of the left post. Had that gone in then a dramatic fightback of epic proportions would have been launched but it was just too little, too late - with United deserving of the three points overall.
Hernandez will not come up against full-backs as good as Wan-Bissaka every week though and if he can continue to show the same hunger, pace and intent, he could once again become a key player for Farke.
Like most skilful players, he has the ability to frustrate when his attacking attempts fail, but let's not forget this is a player who scored eight goals and assisted another 11 during 40 games in the Championship last season.
Stepping up to the Premier League challenge consistently will be difficult but Hernandez has supplied City fans with some welcome hope ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton.
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