Hannibal’s incredibly sexy free-kick should get Man Utd fans salivating

There are certainly worse ways to score your first senior goal.

Hannibal Mejbri, the Manchester United youngster spending the season on loan at Birmingham City, was already the stand-out player in Friday’s local derby against West Brom before producing the kind of impishness that would’ve left Oliver Twist pondering a career change.

The Championship match was less than 10 minutes old when Birmingham won a free-kick somewhere near Digbeth.

But the immense distance from the West Brom goal didn’t deter Hannibal; if anything, it acted as a metaphorical cloud hand beckoning the Tunisia international towards the delicious pie resting on the window ledge.

As the Birmingham and West Brom warriors jockeyed for prominence in the penalty area, Hannibal raised his right arm as if signalling his intention to whip a devastating cross into the box.

Baggies goalkeeper David Button had similar thoughts, as he left his goal largely unguarded in the manner of a dozing prison officer leaving the cells unlocked.

But Hannibal pulled the rug from underneath Button’s feet. Hitting a shot infused with the perfect blend of pace and power, the 20-year-old left Button unable to do anything other than sprawl helplessly on the turf as the ball nestled in the net.

St Andrew’s, a rickety old ground these days, lost its collective shit. Hannibal strutted away to receive the deserved adulation from both the crowd and his team-mates.

Without wanting to go all Andy Gray, take a bow son. Take a fuckin’ bow…

“He was fantastic, his energy, all-round performance was a different class,” Birmingham manager John Eustace said afterwards. “A 20-year-old boy, first loan you are going to get dips in form, tired legs, which I think we have seen this season.

“But tonight he was back at his best. He came on at half time last week, was instrumental in us turning the game around. It’s all part of having a first-time loan player, you take with the highs and the lows but tonight he was unplayable.

“Maybe the World Cup took something out of him but let’s get something right, he only played one competitive game last season and we have asked him to play week in week out. You are going to get the dips and inconsistency but we are very fortunate he is on it at the moment.”

The Birmingham boss wants to keep a number of current loanees at St Andrew’s permanently, but knows Hannibal is slightly out of the Championship club’s league.

“Have you got about £20 million we might be able to,” he joked. That price tag must have been before he scored one of the sexiest goals you’re likely to see all season.

Hannibal had previously impressed the Birmingham faithful with his full-bloodied commitment – the midfielder has collected nine yellow cards this season, indicating there are still some edges that require smoothing – but now he has a goal to savour and cherish.

And, if you listen closely, you’ll be able to hear the sound of Manchester United fans salivating over Hannibal’s moment of genius. The future is certainly bright for the young midfielder.

By Michael Lee

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