Roy Keane urges everyone to ‘calm down’ as Leeds Utd hero Willy Gnonto is compared to two Premier League legends

Wilfried Gnonto No 29 of Leeds United during the Premier League match Leeds United vs Manchester City at Elland Road Credit: Alamy
Wilfried Gnonto No 29 of Leeds United during the Premier League match Leeds United vs Manchester City at Elland Road Credit: Alamy

Willy Gnonto quite rightly earned the accolades after Leeds United’s 5-2 FA Cup third-round replay win over Cardiff, with the Italy forward drawing comparisons with two Premier League heroes for his two-goal display.

The Whites claimed a much-needed win against the Bluebirds at Elland Road to ease through the round four. Either Accrington or Boreham Wood lie next in wait. More importantly, the result eased the pressure just ever-so-slightly on manager Jesse Marsch, with the win their first since domestic football’s resumption.

Truth be told, he does need to follow up that win on Sunday when Brentford are the visitors to Elland Road.

He will also hope his side can tighten up in defence and witnessing them conceded two sloppy late goals. It means they have conceded at least two in five of their six matches since the resumption.

However, things are certainly looking up at the other end of the field. Gnonto – a bargain summer arrival from FC Zurich – is getting better with each passing game. He scored twice, including a breathtaking opener after just 26 seconds, to ignite excitment on the terraces.

His performance for Leeds in Friday’s loss at Aston Villa already had Gary Neville claiming he would soon become a future target for Manchester City.

Now his two-goal salvo had Roy Keane piling on the praise, comparing his second goal to a finish familiar with a former Manchester United teammate.

“The top strikers seem to always put it between players legs,” Keane told ITV Football. “They hit it early and back across the goalkeeper. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer used to do it all the time. Ole is obviously one of the greatest finishers of all-time.”

Praise keeps coming for Willy Gnonto

His fellow pundit Robert Earnshaw was also impressed.

“”I was watching the game against Villa and the more he plays, the more impressive he is, and he is a very good footballer. What I like about him is, he’s 19-years-old but he’s got intelligence,” Earnshaw said before kick-off.

“He has got the right weight of pass, he sees things, he pops it off when needs be. He doesn’t overdo it and he’s got that game intelligence. I think the one thing is, how does he get better? He’s played for Italy and he’s scored a goal. But in the goals department, he needs to get more goals.”

Gnonto was named Man of the Match and, being interviewed after the game by Gabriel Clarke, was told his scissor-kick opener compared to a famous Paolo Di Canio goal. That goal, against Wimbledon, was named Premier League goal of the season back in 2000.

Keane added: “He’s obviously got a bit of talent, but the big question mark over the next few months and years for the player is end product. Particularly goals and assists. Young player, early days for him yet.”

Keane urges everyone to calm down over Gnonto

And speaking after the match, Keane was also asked about just how good his goals were. However, this time the Irishman was back to his moody best, urging everyone to ease up a little.

“Listen, they were good goals tonight, but everyone needs to calm down a little. Look at the strength of the opposition. He won’t get that sort of space when he comes up against [better] Premier League defences.”

Gnonto will be hoping his performance is enough to keep his place. The Leeds win featured Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrison, Joe Gelhardt, Brenden Aaronson and Luis Sinisterra – back from injury – to illustrate just how much competition Leeds have.

They also welcomed new signing Georginio Rutter, another forward, to the crowd at half-time.

As such, Marsch will need to get his blend and substitutes right, especially with Bamford (two) and Rodrigo also among the goals.

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