21-year-old forward Alessia Russo made her Manchester United debut on Sunday, joining the Reds after departing the University of North Carolina due to the COVID-19 pandemic this summer
Her first performance, Russo was brought down in the eighth minute and earned the penalty that gave her side the first goal, and she also scored a brilliant solo effort in the second half.
A stellar debut
After making her debut, Russo said that she was happy with the performance from her side after their win on Sunday:
"Yeah, I mean there's always room for improvement. We're happy to get the three points against a tough Brighton side. We knew it was going to be that way. [It's] great to start the week off with three points after the international break."
The victory was perhaps made even sweeter by the fact United still performed at such a high level despite the number of players who were absent due to injury:
"Injuries are part of the game. We deal with it and we take it in our stride, it happens to everyone, and I think the girls have done a great job to make use of what we've got and players being versatile and just being happy to be on the pitch and to contribute to the team."
Coming back to the UK
Russo left the USA and UNC due to the COVID-19 pandemic and joined Manchester United over the summer. Joining up with her new team, she said that coming in to such a high quality of a side has helped her"
"It's been great. Coming into a squad like United has made it that much easier. The girls are great and the environment that we're in day-in, day-out makes you ready for games on Sunday so it's been great."
When asked about what her personal targets are for her time with the Red Devils, her answer is simple: "I just want to win trophies with Manchester United so we'll see how that goes."
Competition in the squad
Manchester United made two big signings this summer with Tobin Heath and Christen Press swapping the US for Greater Manchester. There's now a very high level of attacking talent in Casey Stoney's side, and Russo said that she enjoys being challenged by the rest of the team:
"I wouldn't want it any other way. Who wouldn't want to be challenged by world champions every day in training? [Also] the likes of Jane Ross, it's great to learn from them day-in, day-out at training and then play with them on the weekend."
The University of North Carolina is famed for its women's football program, with a number of players coming through Chapel Hill in the past. When Russo was substituted off today, it was in place of fellow UNC alumni Tobin Heath:
It's great to have a fellow tar heel [in the squad], that's what it's all about. It's been great training with them both and having them as part of the team, to learn from them in training and then to get the chance to play with them is great. You want to be challenged by the best and that's exactly what we've got.