Marcus Rashford scored twice on his senior debut as Manchester United advanced to the next stage of the Europa League with a 5-1 win over ten-man FC Midtjylland this evening.
A slow start to the game saw Rashford, who had only been included late on after Anthony Martial picked up an injury in the warm-up, force a save out of Midtjylland’s Mikkel Andersen during the opening exchanges. Man United looked the more likely to make the breakthrough but it was Midtjylland who went in front when Pione Sisto showed good footwork before slotting past Sergio Romero. However, their lead didn’t last long, as Memphis Depay’s ball into the box went in off Midtjylland defender Nikolay Bodurov. Juan Mata then had the opportunity to level the tie up on aggregate from the penalty spot after Ander Herrera was brought down in the box but Andersen saved the Spaniard’s effort.
Following the interval, Morgan Schneiderlin and Herrera both missed excellent chances to score before Rashford finally edged United in front when he latched onto Mata’s cross to tap in. It was a moment of real romanticism for Rashford and things got even better for him soon after when he stroked in Guillermo Varela’s cross from the right. A handball in the box then saw United awarded a second penalty which Herrera slammed home, before Memphis sealed the win moments after the away side’s Andre Romer had been sent off for a second yellow card.
What a story. What a performance! 18-year-old Rashford was handed his senior debut in dramatic style as Martial hurt his hamstring during the warm-up at Old Trafford minutes before kick-off.
It was a big ask for Rashford to perform in what was unexpected and difficult circumstances but he didn’t seem at all fazed by the occasion, scoring two goals to send United through. A brilliant evening’s work from the young man.
When will it end? It’s easy to lose count of how many players United now have on the treatment table following the injury to Martial.
As a result, United were playing two central midfielders at the heart of defence alongside two rookies on the flanks, so it was little surprise to see Sisto score the opener past Romero, himself a backup. Is it bad luck? Coaching? A combination of both? United need to pinpoint the cause so as to find the solution.
The Dutchman terrorised the opposition from start to finish and he capped off a sensational performance with a late goal.
It is clear for everyone to see that Memphis has an abundance of talent, he just needs to show it on a more consistent basis. Memphis’ final product lets him down too much and his game will need polishing in the coming months and ahead of the next campaign.
Mata’s weak penalty, which would have given United a huge boost just before half time, was saved far too easily by Andersen.
Thankfully, the Spaniard made up for the error by putting the ball on a plate for Rashford to score in the second half. It was a mixed bag for him on the night and you get the sense that consistency is key for Mata going forward.
Back on track?
Despite the raft of injuries and general gloominess surrounding United, they are through to the next round in the Europa League. But perhaps we should wait until after the Arsenal game before we get too carried away.