Diogo Dalot says Antony is reaping the rewards for his hard work after the big-money summer signing scored one and provided the other as Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest.
Erik ten Hag splashed the cash to bring in the Brazil international from former club Ajax, who were paid an initial 95 million euros (£82.1m) that could rise by a further five million euros (£4.3m) in add-ons.
Antony is the fifth most expensive signing in Premier League history and that eye-catching outlay has led to heightened expectations on the young winger.
The 23-year-old has not been effective in every match but shone at the City Ground on Sunday, scoring his first Premier League goal since October before expertly slipping through Dalot to wrap up a 2-0 win.
In the post-match press conference Ten Hag said Antony “has to step up” as the United boss demanded even more from a player who has scored eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.
“I think everybody is seeing he’s getting his rewards now,” Dalot said of his fellow scorer against Forest.
“He works very hard, he is a kid who works every day very hard to be at this top level.
“I’m sure he will be very helpful for us. He showed with the goal and the assist that he’s a very important player for us.
“I tried my best (to help him adapt). I was not the main character on his journey so far. He was and he still is, but I think everybody helped him to get comfortable.
“He knew the manager already, so he knew how he likes to play, how he wants to play and we tried to help him settle in quickly and we’re very happy with him.”
Dalot’s shared language has helped build a bond with Antony, with the Portuguese and Brazilian celebrating the second together with a posed handshake.
“We spoke, he was going to score… we were not expecting I was going to score as well! We both did and we were happy with that.”
United’s victory at the City Ground gives them daylight in the race for the top four and saw them surpass last season’s Premier League points tally with eight games to spare.
Ten Hag’s team dominated from the outset against relegation-threatened Forest as the group stood strong after seeing their first-team injury list grow to 10 players.
Lisandro Martinez was ruled out for the rest of the season and Raphael Varane the next few weeks after Thursday’s game against Sevilla, with Marcel Sabitzer then pulling up injured in the warm-up on Sunday.
Dalot filled in at left-back, with Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia among the others ruled out against Forest.
“We showed character, we showed personality,” Dalot said. “I mean, a lot of noise outside the dressing room but we kept calm, we knew that we’re not just 11 players in this squad and we showed once again.
“When you play for Man United, you’re going to be in the spotlight every time.
“We knew that with the injuries that we had – important players that got injured – there could be some doubt.
“It was a big challenge for us to show that we have more than just 11 players in this team.
“We have a proper squad and I think we showed (that). We showed personality, we showed composure on the ball, character and we did a very good game.”
While United looked ahead to this week’s key Europa League and FA Cup matches, Forest’s 10th game without a win has Steve Cooper’s men facing relegation.
Defender Moussa Niakhate said: “We are all trying our best to win games. We will not give up, but we have to do more.
“We have to keep going, we have seven games left and they are like seven finals.
“It’s difficult as the end of the season is getting closer, but I am 100 per cent convinced we will achieve our goals with this squad.
“We trust in each other and we now get to work straight away on Liverpool (on Saturday).”