Wed | Jul 17, 2019

Rashford's double lifts Man U to 2-1 win over Liverpool

Published:Sunday | March 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (left) and Romelu Lukaku celebrate after their side scored a second goal during the English Premier League match against Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, England yesterday. Manchester United won 2-1.

MANCHESTER, England (AP):

As Manchester United turned to established superstars to ignite their attack, young striker Marcus Rashford was in danger of becoming a forgotten man at Old Trafford.

He reminded the world of his talent yesterday.

Making his first start of 2018 in possibly the biggest match in English football, Rashford scored two goals in the first 24 minutes to set United on their way to a 2-1 win over fierce rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

"The last few months it was not happening for him, and he was feeling it a bit in terms of confidence," United manager Jose Mourinho said. "Today, we trusted him."

Since Mourinho took charge of United, Rashford has seen his chances of establishing himself as the team's main striker disappear following the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and, last summer, Romelu Lukaku.

Then, in January, Mourinho opportunistically brought in Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, putting another obstacle in the 20-year-old Rashford's path to the first team.

FIRST START THIS YEAR

This was Rashford's first league start since December 26, since when he has had to make do with cameos off the bench. His inactivity potentially threatened his spot in England's squad for the World Cup, but his goals against Liverpool brought him back into the spotlight.

It was his first Premier League double since his league debut, in February 2016 against Arsenal, when he burst on to the scene after being plucked from the under-19 squad by then-manager Louis van Gaal because of an injury crisis in United's attack.

In what was always going to be a clash of styles at Old Trafford, United's tactics were hardly sophisticated defend deeply and in numbers, and hit Liverpool with the long ball. They worked perfectly, at least in the first half.

Liverpool centre back Dejan Lovren was bullied by Romelu Lukaku, experiencing the kind of game he endured against Tottenham in October when he was embarrassingly substituted after 31 minutes.

Both of United's goals came from Lovren being knocked off balance by Lukaku after long clearances by goalkeeper David De Gea, and Rashford took full advantage.

For the first, Lukaku held his ground as Lovren bounced off him and flicked a header on to Rashford. The England striker cut inside right back Trent Alexander-Arnold and fizzed in a low shot that gave goalkeeper Loris Karius no chance.

For the second, Lovren actually got his head to the ball off De Gea's kick but stumbled to the ground under pressure from Lukaku, who collected possession and fed Juan Mata. Virgil van Dijk made an interception, but Rashford pounced on the loose ball to send in a shot that took a minor deflection off Alexander-Arnold's heel and span into the same corner.

Lacklustre in the first half, Liverpool improved, and as United retreated further, reduced the deficit through Eric Bailly's 66th-minute own-goal off Sadio Mane's cross. They couldn't manage an equaliser, however, on a day its prolific strike force was kept quiet.

Other results: Everton 2 Brighton 0; Huddersfield 0 Swansea 0; Newcastle 3 Southampton 0; West Brom 1 Leicester City 4; West Ham 0 Burnley 3; Chelsea; 2 Crystal Palace 1.