Hat trick aren’t usually associated with Shinji Kagawa when it comes to Manchester United. There are better scorers and finishers than the Japanese player – Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney or Javier Hernandez when he gets the playing time, which hasn’t happened too much recently.
If anyone thought that Kagawa was purchased last summer so United could enjoy the financial benefit of having a Japanese player, they were completely wrong, or simply didn’t watch Borussia Dortmund matches in the previous two seasons. While Kagawa isn’t the type of player to score 20 goals in a season, he’s more than capable of reaching double digits, using his fantastic off the ball movement and clever touch to find himself in excellent opportunities a player of his caliber should find more difficult to reach in every match.
But with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to focus on, defenses can’t account for everything. So after Kagawa, mostly hurt by injuries and losing the starting place he had earlier in the season, scored only 2 goals in his first 11 matches going into the contest against Norwich, no one really expected him to become the first Asian player with a Premier League hat trick, leading the way to a 4-0 win against the visitors.
Easy? Far from it. Norwich came to get a 0-0 no matter what, and for more than 40 minutes, the match seemed like it is headed in that direction. Manchester United failed to gather any attacking momentum, and the man usually in charge of breaking deadlock, Robin van Persie, continued to look clumsy and inaccurate with his touches. He came off after 66 minutes, partially because of the Real Madrid match in a few days, but also because it just wasn’t his day to score.
It hasn’t been his time to score as well, with only one goal in his last seven matches. He still gets the same amount of chances he did during his more successful scoring streaks, but something just isn’t right, which United need it to be in order to make it through into the quarterfinal.
Wayne Rooney was the one who stepped up. Not just by scoring the best and final goal of the day, a wonderful long range kick that seemed to be a lob yet a power-strike all at once, beating a badly positioned and helpless Mark Bunn. Rooney was brilliant with his touches and movement, finding Kagawa (or clearing space for him) on two of his three goals, and despite not always showing it with his scoring numbers, is playing once again some of the best football in his career after struggling and admitting to it with fitness and possibly passion for the match all season.
There was plenty of talk before the match about Ryan Giggs getting to 1000 appearances, but Alex Ferguson thought differently. He’s keeping his cards close to his chest, and whether Giggs gets to start on Tuesday is still a mystery. He’ll be in the squad, but the whole approach to the match against a team that’s more talented will be determined by the duo Ferguson selects to conduct things in the middle of the field. Kagawa probably won his place.