Erik ten Hag highlighted Marcus Rashford’s focus and quality after the form forward again proved the difference in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Real Betis in the Europa League.
The Red Devils went into their tie with a 4-1 lead at Old Trafford, but Ten Hag were unwilling to let his team rest on their laurels. Sunday in the Premier League.
Betis made things difficult for United during the first half in a bouncing Estadio Benito Villamarin, but the crowd fell silent in the 55th minute as Rashford pulled home to break the deadlock.
The 25-year-old re-energized in the second half after an unusual start, but his 25-yard effort was his ‘reward’ for his sweltering current form, his manager says.
‘The team created some chances,’ said Ten Hag. “Rashy had some chances before and he missed some, but he kept believing, he kept trying and he got his reward.
Erik ten Hag was pleased with the almost constant quality of his player since his return from Qatar
Marcus Rashford got his ‘reward’ with his second-half goal that helped United through Europe
“All good strikers know you don’t get every chance to score a goal, but at this level you don’t create five or six chances in a game, so one of the two has to be there.”
Rashford’s 25th United goal in major European competitions was his 19th in 24 games since returning from the World Cup.
‘[His form] says something about the performance of the team’, says Ten Hag. “It tells you something about him.
“If he keeps the focus and makes sure he has the energy, the way and the way to play in that system and style, he gets into scoring positions and it’s about him, he has the ability to finish. ‘
Ten Hag was delighted with the way his side rose to the occasion in the second half, despite falling behind in the first leg.
The form of the English starboy is such that his quality regularly changes the game for his club
Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro managed to distinguish themselves without sacrificing minutes in their upcoming quarter-final tie
More satisfaction came when Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro avoided bookings during their important match contributions, as a yellow card would have ruled both players out of the first leg of their next European match.
The latter’s domestic suspension for four games following his departure from Southampton made his starting role against Betis less surprising than Fernandes, who has played in all but three of United’s games this season.
“He is very strong, very well recovered,” said Ten Hag. “He’s a really good athlete, he has so much energy and he can play in so many roles.
“Tactically he is brilliant, he can play roles and we can take advantage of him, we can overload areas, we can outsmart opponents, we create good situations and create chances.
“He is very important in the counter press and the press or transitions. He is a good example for the team,” the Dutch manager admitted.
“He’s been in brilliant form the last few weeks and looks like he’s getting better from game to game.”
Ten Hag also had praise for Facundo Pellistri, who made his first United start since joining the club from Penarol in October 2020.
Uruguayan international Facundo Pellistri made his debut start for the Red Devils in Spain
“I think he deserved to come on,” said Ten Hag about the 21-year-old Uruguay international, who had only come on as a substitute for United Colors six times before Thursday night’s game.
“He’s had a good training performance, you can see him progressing, getting stronger, good game against Leeds, against Betis.
“Starting is more difficult, we’ve seen that, but as the game goes on, he came in and got faith, you see his abilities.
He had some good dribbles, good runs from behind and some good crosses. Defensively he did his job, so I’m pretty happy with his performance.
It’s a step up for him. Now it’s up to him to get into rhythm and contribute to the team.’