Marcus Rashford impresses on his first Manchester United start since Boxing Day
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
On a typical Mother's Day, the usual gifts of flowers, chocolates, perfume and Yankee Candles are handed over to the doting matriarch, as thanks for putting up with spoil brats and temper tantrums throughout the year.
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford had an extra special gift to give to his mother: his Man of the Match award earned in United's 2-1 victory over rivals Liverpool.
The 20-year-old shared a photo on Instagram with his mother, holding the Premier League award, with the caption reading: "Thank you for all you do. Happy Mother’s Day Mum, perfect present!"
And it was the perfect performance for the England international who had something to prove. Rashford had not found the back of the net for Manchester United since December. He certainly made up for it when he netted twice in 25 minutes against Liverpool, helping push the Red Devils five points clear of their rivals.
He struck first in the 14th minute when the defensive United chose a direct route. David de Gea sent his goal kick down the middle, reaching Romelu Lukaku whose header found Rashford. The youngster charged forwards into the box, cutting inside Trent Alexander-Arnold before blasting his shot into the bottom corner.
Rashford doubled his tally, and United's lead, 10 minutes later. The hosts again opted for the direct route when de Gea sent the ball down to Lukaku. The Belgian striker out-muscled his marker, and fed the ball to Juan Mata. The Spaniard's shot was deflected, but the ball fell to Rashford. Again, his shot was hard and low past goalkeeper Loris Karius.
The next goal of the game came from a United player, but unfortunately in the wrong goal. Eric Bailly accidentally turned Sadio Mane's cross into his own goal in the 66th minute.
Rashford praised Jose Mourinho for his impact in his training, Sky Sports reports. He said: "Right now, I'm probably not learning the most on the pitch. In training is where I'm doing most of my learning.
"You have to take it into the game and today [Saturday] it worked. Personally, taking the confidence from this game into the next games is important.
"There's lots of things (I'm learning). It is just the all-round game is starting to become more clear.
"Things this manager wants are becoming more clear to me. The more you do, the easier the results come on the pitch."
While he has struggled for starts this season - his last before the Liverpool game was on Boxing Day - he is mature enough to need no explanation from his manager. When he was questioned on whether he asks Mourinho to explain his selections, Rashford said: "He doesn’t have to. When you are younger than I am and you are learning the game I think you do need it. But my experiences from the past mean I understand that’s part of the game. There are only 11 players that can start – it’s just one of those things.
“It is something you have been through before. If it happens again you will probably deal with it better than the first time it happened to you. It is just another experience.
He added: “In football you are going to be up, you’re going to be down. The most important thing is sticking together as a squad. Everyone turns up every day for training, we all work hard, we all do the necessary things.
"We are all in it together. Sometimes you are in the team, sometimes you are not in the team.”
Manchester United play Sevilla at home in the Champions League tonight (K.O. 7.45pm). They could book their place in the quarter final. It's all to play for at Old Trafford after the first leg finished 0-0 in Spain.