Debutant Marcus Rashford helps Manchester United thrash Midtjylland 5-1 to advance in Europa League
Manchester United survived an early scare to thrash Midtjylland 5-1 at Old Trafford on Thursday night to win the Europa League Round of 32 tie 6-3 on aggregate. Goals from debutant Marcus Rashford, Andre Herrera, Memphis Depay and an own goal saw the Red Devils cancel out a Pione Sisto goal in the first half.
Manchester United: Romero, Varela, Carrick, Blind, Riley, Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera, Lingard, Mata, Memphis, Rashford
Midtjylland: Andersen, Romer, Hansen, Bodurov, Novak, Sparv, Poulsen, Olsson, Hassan, Sisto, Urena
Manchester United were dealt a huge blow when Anthony Martial injured his hamstring in the warm-up session. The 20-year-old striker was named in the starting XI before the injury.
It was a case of deja vu for United who had lost David De Gea last week when he injured himself in the warm-up before the first leg. He was replaced by 18-year-old striker Marcus Rashford – an academy product.
First Half: United fail to capitalise after going behind
With United trailing 2-1 from the first leg, they were under pressure right from kickoff to get a result. Memphis Depay provided the home side with an attacking impetus in the first 10 minutes, causing all sorts of problems in the Midtjylland defence. The Dutch winger first beat two defenders before his shot was blocked. He then tried to cut back a pass which was also blocked but the visitors conceded a corner kick.
Rashford looked confident when on the ball and did not seem perturbed by the fact that it was his senior debut. He managed to test the goalkeeper after cutting in from the left, side-stepping a defender and taking a shot on goal from the edge of the box but Mikkel Andersen was up to the task and made a save.
However, it was the Danish side who took the lead at Old Trafford with their first shot on goal. Pione Sisto, who had also scored in the first leg, put Midtjylland in front with a well-taken goal. He first got the better of Daley Blind before easily negotiating a badly-timed slide tackle from Michael Carrick to shoot across goal and find the back of the net.
However, United soon got a goal back when Memphis, easily their best player in the first half, sprinted down the left flank and tried to cross the ball into the box to Rashford. But Nikolay Bodurov stuck his foot out and ended up putting the ball into his own net, even finding the top corner as a result.
Just before half-time, United were granted another lifeline when Ander Herrera was brought down in the box by Kian Hansen. Juan Mata stepped up for the Red Devils but his penalty was poor and Andersen dived to his right to make the save.
Half-time: Manchester United 1-1 Midtjylland
Second Half: Rashford turns hero for United
United had a chance to take the lead soon after the restart when Mata tried to set up Morgan Schneiderlin at the far post with a lob. The Frenchman tried to volley it onto goal and only ended up miscuing it as it harmlessly rolled across the six-yard box before it was cleared.
Soon after, Memphis managed to float in a cross to an unmarked Herrera at the far post. The Spaniard had an open net with Andersen scrambling to recover but his header was just wide of the post, much to the groans of the fans watching.
However, Marcus Rashford soon gave United the lead with a lovely goal. A cross from the right flank found Mata in the box on the left and he knocked it down towards the centre of the box where an unmarked Rashford came charging in and fired it home to make it 2-1 to the Red Devils and 3-3 on aggregate.
Tempers flared in the 71st minute when Jesse Lingard went down in the box under pressure from Andre Romer. The referee took out a card but only to book Lingard for simulation. Replays showed there was absolutely no contact and it was no wonder that the visitors wanted to have a strong word with the 23-year-old Englishman, leading to a small tussle before play was restarted.
United eventually took the lead in the tie when Guillermo Varela’s cross was fired home by Rashford to make it a dream debut for the young forward. The Uruguayan’s cross into the box found Rashford unmarked again and he made the right run to calmly finish past Andersen to make it 4-3 to United on aggregate.
While another away goal would have given United problems, Midtjylland shot themselves in the foot when Kian Hansen handled the ball while trying to block a shot from Memphis. Herrera took the penalty and made it 4-1. Romer then received his second yellow and was sent off to reduce the away side to 10 men.
Memphis was finally rewarded for his hard work with a goal in the 90th minute to put the tie out of reach for the Danish side. A low shot from outside the box saw the Dutchman beat the goalkeeper at the near post to make it 5-1 to United and 6-3 on aggregate.
It wasn’t until United were comfortably in the lead that Van Gaal allowed himself to celebrate and the final whistle saw United advance to the Round of 16 with an aggregate score of 6-3.