David Moyes saluted Shinji Kagawa for what he deemed the Japan international's best display during his reign as Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 1-0.
Kagawa has struggled to get in the United team this season and made only his fourth start for Moyes, initially on the left wing before spending the final few minutes operating in a central role just behind Wayne Rooney.
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And the United manager was delighted with the 24-year-old's work rate and defensive efforts as the Premier League champions recorded their second win in Europe this season.
Moyes said: "I thought he was really good, his effort when we didn't have the ball was fantastic. Everyone tells me about Shinji’s ability and what he’s got, but tonight was the first time I have really seen Shinji. I thought he played really well.
"When we put him in the No. 10 role, I thought he was very good off Wayne and off the left, he plays off the left for Japan, but I thought off the ball he was terrific [with] his attitude and his energy. I was pleased for him. That's the best I have seen from Shinji since I took over."
Moyes also reflected on Phil Jones' performance after the versatile England international, who has operated in several positions during his two years at Old Trafford, played a third successive game in the middle of defence.
"I think everybody probably sees Phil Jones as a long-term centre-back," he added. "We are trying to give him an opportunity to get a run of games in that position with Rio [Ferdinand]’s injury and Vida [Nemanja Vidic] had an injury for the last couple of games but we had really good competition at centre-half.
"Tonight part of it was to keep a clean sheet. We have to stop conceding goals. If we are not scoring many, we definitely have to keep them so the defenders have to do their job."