Jesse Lingard has explained why he enjoyed playing alongside Marcus Rashford during Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough in the Premier League, noting that the 19-year-old was “a nuisance” all afternoon.
The 24-year-old netted his fifth goal of the season after 62 minutes to hand Man United a 2-0 lead, rifling home a superb drive past Victor Valdes.
United’s attacking display was largely hallmarked by the persistent interchanging movement between Lingard and Rashford; the latter terrorised Middlesbrough’s back four all afternoon.
And Lingard, speaking after the game, was quick to heap praise on his United and England teammate.
“We had a lot of pace up front with me, Marcus and Antonio [Valencia],” he said.
“But we had the ball-players in midfield to dictate the game, so it was an all-round good game. As I was looking for the pass there weren’t many options open so I took it on myself, and luckily it went in.
“Marcus has put a shift in for the team today. He was a nuisance up front, and it was good playing with him.”
United’s starting XI was initially greeted with palpable levels of scepticism, with many questioning Mourinho’s continued application of a three-at-the-back system, but the Special One’s thinking came clear just minutes in as Rashford skipped away from a series of red shirts and found Lingard in behind the back four.
Placing Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia further up the pitch gave Lingard a chance to abandon his usual approach of essentially running hard on the flank and instead look to inflict damage infield, bringing him closer to the 19-year-old as Middlesbrough’s back four quickly caved in under the combined power and raw energy of the attacking duo.