England striker Marcus Rashford continued his fine goalscoring form as Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Rashford, who scored three times for England at the World Cup in Qatar, set United on their way to victory with a well-placed finish from a corner in the 19th minute, before Anthony Martial doubled the hosts’ lead three minutes later.
Forest thought they had got back into the match midway through the first half, but Willy Boly’s goal from a free kick was ruled out for offside.
The visitors never looked like mounting a comeback, with United putting the seal on a impressive display as substitute Fred netted a late third, completing a victory that moves the fifth-placed hosts one point off the top four, while also boasting a game in hand on Tottenham. Forest stay 19th afer a fairly feeble display at the Theatre of Dreams.
Before Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest, Erik ten Hag confirmed the club’s January pursuit of a striker.
In Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, however, the United boss at least has players capable of keeping their Champions League push alive.
Rashford returned from a prolific World Cup with a brilliant goal to open the scoring in a move straight out of Carrington. Christian Eriksen drove a low corner into the England international’s path, who latched onto it with aplomb after easily evading the traffic desperately defending the box.
A routine win for United thanks to goals from Rashford, Martial and Fred.
OLD TRAFFORD, MANCHESTER — Marcus Rashford continued his quest to spearhead Manchester United’s post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, guiding his team to a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
United rose to within a point of Tottenham Hotspur in the race for a Champions League spot, and have the form to suggest they’ll soon usurp the North Londoners, boasting a four-month home unbeaten run and eight wins from their last 10 games across all competitions.
Meanwhile, Forest remain in the relegation zone. Steve Cooper’s men have taken just two points from their eight road trips in the top flight, with their survival hopes clearly hinging on home form.
However, the first half of this rainy evening clash nearly told a different story. Forest began brightly, putting in a fearless display a la their City Ground triumph over Liverpool, albeit with the quality touch of Morgan Gibbs-White missing. Jesse Lingard — on his Old Trafford homecoming — was key to their forward forays, but couldn’t land the final ball to Taiwo Awoniyi, who ran hard down both flanks as well as looking to cause trouble for the presumably-fatigued Raphael Varane.
United punished the relegation battlers twice in the space of three minutes, though, with Rashford the key cog as their counter-attacking play burst into life. He surged beyond the Forest backline on several occasions, but his opener came from a corner routine from the training ground. Christian Eriksen pulled the ball along the ground to the penalty spot, where the England international had peeled off his man to finish well.
Rashford turned provider for Anthony Martial, who was looking to cement his status as Erik Ten Hag’s first-choice No.9 with the transfer window soon opening. All starting from an Awoniyi run at the opposite end, a searching United ball along the left flank after the transition found Rashford, who went inside and played in Martial. His effort was poor, but luckily for him, so was Wayne Hennessey.
The Welsh goalkeeper was a stand-in for Dean Henderson — the United loanee currently in superb form, having pulled off a string of saves to clinch three points against Liverpool before the World Cup break, as well as saving penalties in two other home victories. With Henderson unable to feature against his parent club, Hennessey lent a tame right hand to Martial’s effort, which trickled over the line.
Ryan Yates thought he’d brought the East Midlands club back into the game before the interval, but his header was ruled out after a lengthy VAR check. Willy Boly had the final touch before the ball hit the net, and the centre-back was correctly adjudged to be in an offside position. Cooper felt this was the turning point of the game, and it certainly panned out that way.
In the second period, United began to mount some concerted pressure, and it came with the flair the fans here demand. Bruno Fernandes, Rashford and Antony began to link up extremely well — again, often on the break from a Forest set-piece. They seemed to be having a competition as to who could produce the perfect party piece, with audacious efforts from Fernandes and Casemiro the pick of the bunch.
Forest kept on pushing hard, kept on carving out half-chances, and kept on failing to make any meaningful impact. At the other end, Alejandro Garnacho was introduced to much fanfare, following his late winner at Fulham before many of his senior teammates left for Qatar. After a couple of thrilling dribbles down the left flank, the Stretford End sang “Viva Garnacho,” clearly ready to move on from Ronaldo.
The Red Devils had the game sewn up and ultimately took their foot off the gas, but the third eventually arrived. Substitute Fred was the beneficiary of a lovely ball across the box from Casemiro, who found his compatriot’s run at the back post. That came moments after Rashford was given a standing ovation as he left the field, on a night which cemented his status as United’s main man.
Garnacho may have taken on Ronaldo’s chant, but Rashford is taking on the mantle of putting Ten Hag’s team on his back. He dragged the hosts through a tricky first half and provided the spark, with each of their rare positive moves going through the 25-year-old. Just 24 hours after news emerged over United missing out on the signing of Cody Gakpo, Rashford showed his worth on the left flank favoured by the Dutchman — though also blasted down the right at will to torment Renan Lodi, and took up a central role late on.
It’s difficult to believe this is the same player who was in such horrendous form last season, to the point where a transfer away was reportedly the most likely outcome. Now, Rashford is not only scoring and assisting, but doing so when it matters. Before tonight, his goal contributions had all been pivotal, directly winning 11 points — including against Arsenal and Liverpool.
A further three goals in the Europa League, two in the Carabao Cup and three in the small matter of the World Cup make this run of form particularly strong. Ten Hag appears to have found a formula, with a clear idea of how United’s starting XI should look, even while the performances continue to lack concerted bouts of pressure. While they overcome those teething problems, it’s clear a revitalised Rashford is the key to producing United’s standout moments.