Manchester City youngster Kelechi Iheanacho was delighted to announce himself as a Premier League match-winner after coming off the bench to sink Crystal Palace.
The 18-year-old Nigerian striker, who made his senior bow in a similar cameo when Manuel Pellegrini’s team beat Watford before the international break, was an 89th-minute replacement for Wilfried Bony at Selhurst Park.
City’s leading forward Sergio Aguero departed during the first half with a knee injury and the visitors were also without stellar attacking talents David Silva and Raheem Sterling due to fitness complaints, leaving Iheanacho to take centre stage and steal a 1-0 victory.
He reacted quickest in a crowded penalty area after Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy kept out Samir Nasri’s shot, preserving City’s 100 per cent record and opening up a five-point lead at the top of the table after five matches.
“I’m happy, it means very much to me to score a great goal,” Iheanacho told Sky Sports.
“I was introduced with just two minutes to score a great goal against Palace so I’m very, very grateful and thanks to the manager for introducing me. I’m happy.”
Iheanacho was the player of the tournament when Nigeria won the 2013 nder-17 World Cup and impressive pre-season performances in 2014 and this time around left many City supporters eagerly awaiting his first-team introduction.
Those same fans celebrated with gusto when the youngster broke the deadlock in London and Iheanacho enjoyed a jubilant moment in front of the travelling support.
“The fans were crazy when I scored the goal – all of them,” he added.
“We are happy, it was a great game.”