In the 57th minute, Marcus Rashford showed the best way to come back from the World Cup. The No. 10 was collected inside the Manchester United half and, after turning on the burners, pushed itself towards Jordan Bayer down the right. The centre-back kept dropping and Rashford kept coming until he stunned Burnley with a superb kick and in a flash, Billy Peacock-Farrell was laser-whipped from the corner, from just inside the area.
For Rashford, the England star turned in Qatar 2022 with a hat-trick, it was his ninth goal of the season – perhaps his best for the club – and ensured Erik ten Hag’s side reached the quarter-finals. Against championship leaders Vincent Kompany, they manage to control themselves and not undercook, that last trait coming as no surprise given their five-week lay-off period.
About Rashford’s offer, the coach said: “He was great, he was always a threat playing on the defensive line and he was dangerous in dribbling and movement. He runs a lot. In the end you get the benefit.”
The 25-year-old had his say: “There’s space in front of you and you’re almost waiting for the right time to get a pass, but the gap opened up and luckily I got in.”
The Burnley manager declared his men content with running for the ball when out of possession, but that is what they initially had United do as evidenced by one break, as Ashley Barnes volleyed in Johan Gudmundsson’s cross. When Bruno Fernandes slid in Alejandro Garnacho, the youngster failed to beat the advancing Peacock Farrell but United came alive. Further pressure ensued with a corner kick which Rashford volleyed into a crowd of players.
After United’s last game – a 2-1 league win over Fulham – and before capacity was reduced by 62,000 due to ambulance strikes, Ten Hag fielded five World Cup returns in Christian Eriksen, Casemiro, Rashford, Tyrell Malacia and Fernandes, despite illness. Harry Maguire, who remains in doubt about Nottingham Forest’s visit to the Premier League on Tuesday, was ruled out.
Rust may have been the reason why Garnacho’s touch was clumsy when Anthony Martial slotted the ball behind the Burnley defense and the winger volleyed it wide as he headed towards Peacock Farrell. United searched for their best rhythm and was scintillating when finding it.
Fernandez received a tackle in the center area and volleyed the ball towards Aaron Wan-Bissaka whose jump was followed by a pass from the right, which Eriksen volleyed into the net. “The players are hungry after the World Cup break and it was great to see this team’s goal,” said Ten Hag.
United were arrogant and were in a clinching position on the ball, depleting the energy of those in blue as they had to keep chasing them. But now, a small fight back came. One of Barnes’ counter-attacks fed Manuel Benson, but he could only find Martin Dubravka’s side-netting. The same player did better with a dart effort that saw the Slovakian fly to the left for a save, and when, seconds later, Benson missed a cross, the keeper missed a regulation punch, the ball bounced off Rashford and as Casemiro swerved towards the goal, Casemiro sprinted wide.
This was also what the hapless Dubravka had to do when he mishandled the Brazilian’s back balls: he managed to stop the ball rolling but these contributions weren’t as confident. United, perhaps deeming it prudent to work at the other end, quickly lapped and shot the No. 9 which was an acrobatic stop from Peacock Farrell.
The tie was still in the balance, and so when Rashford found Scott McTominay and missed his attempt, a chance was gone for all but Kompany’s men to be killed. Then Benson should have equalized after McTominay passed straight at him but he was chipping wide.
Now came Rashford’s brilliant individual goal but Burnley still refused to withdraw. Gudmonsson made Barnes the round but with Dubravka’s goal pleading for the striker missed badly – much to the delight of the home side. Anthony, as a substitute, came close to mimicking Rashford when skating, but after cutting on the inside to his favored left foot, he headed straight for Peacock Farrell.
Towards the end, Brandon Williams, who has the feisty attitude that Ten Hag wanted, entered for his first appearance for United since May 2021. His loan spell at Norwich last season and injury this season were the reasons for his long break.
The Dutchman would classify this competition as a defining route to breaking the club’s trophy drought that stretches back into 2017, so progressing here was a classic case of a job well done.
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