Rashford is imitating United legends
There was more than a touch of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in Marcus Rashford's assured finish to seal the 2-0 victory at Newcastle United.
Left in the clear by Alexis Sanchez's pass, he had the time to pick his spot as keeper Martin Dubravka stood between him and the killer goal. There was a moment, from the sidelines, where everything seemed to stand still and the enormity of the chance became obvious. Some people have criticised Rashford, who is 21 remember, for not always finishing the openings he manages to find but this composed effort had the hallmark of a clinical marksman.
Rashford is in hot form right now and added another goal and assist to his personal tallies but, make no mistake, this was an evening that provided some valuable lessons for the youngster.
Magpies skipper Jamaal Lascelles was an uncompromising marker, appearing to relish roughing up the England international with some strong-arm tactics. In fairness, it was a task he stuck to well as he continually made life difficult for the homegrown Red, especially in the first half.
It is part of leading the line, taking the physical punishment, and United's no.10 is only going to get better - and stronger - in this regard.
"It was a tough test," admitted Solskjaer afterwards. "He gets kicked, he gets tackled. He goes for headers and challenges. He makes runs. He is going to be a top, top no.9 - definitely. We've got Romelu [Lukaku] so sometimes he will play on the right, sometimes on the left and sometimes through the middle. He will get enough games!"
Solskjaer was the most precise of finishers and made hitting the target look so easy. The Norwegian was so effective and ruthless, it almost seemed cruel on defenders and keepers at times. He liked what he saw in Rashford's effort in front of the travelling army of Reds fans.
"I think I can talk about loads of individuals but, when he's a striker like he is, well," smiled the caretaker boss. "It was a great goal he scored, calm and composed. He passes it past the keeper. He scored the free-kick against Cardiff and he does it again with a great hit [to set up Romelu Lukaku's opener]. He must have been watching Cristiano practising them [when he was younger]!"
Ronaldo's knuckle-ball technique from set-pieces is legendary, as is Ole's finishing prowess. If Rashford can keep displaying attributes associated with those United greats then the sky is the limit for the exciting forward.
GARY NEVILLE'S VERDICT
Speaking after the match in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, former United defender Gary Neville heaped praise on Rashford's performance and declared his excitement for the young forward's future.
"The spring in the counter-attack is there and Marcus Rashford playing up front is fantastic - I love him to bits," said Neville.
"He's played nearly 150 games at the age of 21 and his potential is enormous. He's actually now stepping up beyond potential to where he will be a top-class player.
"People will talk about Romelu Lukaku and how he can get back in the team. Don't worry about that, worry about the kid that's playing, that's going to devastate teams.
"Marcus gives the team mobility. They just need more energy up front. He has earned his chance. He gives them something different and he is a fantastic player.
"He is on the right trajectory to become something really special for Manchester United. He was a massive problem [for Newcastle] all night and deservedly won Man of the Match. He was brilliant to watch."
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