Debutant Rashford helps United oust Midtjylland
Thursday, 25 February 2016
Manchester United 5-1 Midtjylland (agg: 6-3)
Marcus Rashford scored twice on his first ever senior appearance as United came from behind to steamroller the Danish visitors.
Article top media content
- Debutant Marcus Rashford scores twice as Manchester United beat Midtjylland 5-1
- Danish side, 2-1 winners last week, go in front but end up overwhelmed
- United rampant for much of second half and cement victory with two late goals
- Apply for tickets for the UEFA Europa League final at Basel's St. Jakob-Park
- The round of 16 draw takes place on Friday, streamed live from 13.00CET
They did it the hard way, but Manchester United are into the UEFA Europa League's last 16 thanks to a 5-1 defeat of Midtjylland at Old Trafford.
Beaten 2-1 in Herning last week, Louis van Gaal's men fell further behind on home turf but reacted superbly and ultimately ran out 6-3 aggregate victors in the round of 32 tie. Eighteen-year-old Marcus Rashford, only starting due to Anthony Martial's injury in the warm-up and making his first ever senior appearance, was the hero with two second-half goals.
It had all looked so different when Midtjylland opened the scoring on 28 minutes, Pione Sisto showing splendid poise in the penalty area before firing low across Sergio Romero.
That did little to stem the hosts, on the front foot previously – with debutant Rashford the first to warm Mikkel Andersen's palms and Jesse Lingard also going close – and remaining defiant even after falling behind.
Memphis Depay gave the visiting defence a torrid time throughout and was key to United's equaliser, Nikolay Bodurov inadvertently turning the Dutchman's cross from the byline into his own net.
If United were on top prior to that, they were now positively rampant. Morgan Schneiderlin went within a whisker with an overhead kick and headed against a post before Juan Mata's spot kick was saved. Midtjylland, somehow, went in at half-time still ahead on aggregate.
Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera could both have levelled the tie within five minutes of the resumption, but United had to bide their time. Rashford came up trumps, side-footing Mata's cutback past Andersen from close range.
The teenager completed the turnaround – and a remarkable night for himself – when he ghosted in at the back post to turn in Guillermo Varela's cross. Herrera's late penalty and Memphis's even later shot, following André Rømer's dismissal for the visitors, were the icing on the cake.
Fairy tale for Rashford
A week ago, local boy Rashford was barely known beyond those familiar with the United youth set-up. On Wednesday, there were whispers he might be in the squad for the visit of Midtjylland. Then he was named on the bench. Then came Martial's injury, two debut goals and a night he will never, ever forget.
This inexperienced-looking United side, not exactly brimming with confidence and shorn of so many senior players, could easily have buckled after going behind. The home crowd, though, chanted defiantly even before Sisto had finished celebrating and their team responded immediately and never looked back.
Magic from Memphis
United's summer signing from PSV Eindhoven made a fast start to life at Old Trafford but was largely peripheral over the turn of the year – indeed last week's game in Herning was his first start since 26 December. He was electric back on home turf, however, and tormented the Midtjylland defence throughout. A good omen for Val Gaal for the rest of the season.