Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed teenage defender Kieran Lee's match-winning performance in the Carling Cup win against Crewe Alexandra.
The Stalybridge-born 18-year-old replaced right back David Gray in the game, to make his debut for the holders with 13 minutes of normal time still left on the clock.
United struggled to break down their League One opponents, despite the presence of seven full internationals in their team.
While Ferguson has been damning in his criticism of the team, Lee has drawn special praise after latching on to Alan Smith's through ball to snatch victory with two minutes to go before penalties.
"Without question, Kieran is a good player," Ferguson explained.
"He has good ability; all he needs is time to develop.
"He showed great awareness to make the run for the goal and it saved me from embarrassment because I never win penalty shoot-outs.
"Maybe some of the older boys found it difficult to get motivated and I also have to take into consideration Gabriel Heinze needs games and Mikael Silvestre is only just back from injury, but it was a really disappointing performance."
Southend United of The Championship are United's next opponents in the competition, and Ferguson will be expecting a much better showing from his charges as he looks to progress to the competition's quarter final stages.