Erik ten Hag lauded “elite” Marcus Rashford after the forward’s 100th Manchester United goal – but the manager warned that his side’s lack of control in the second half made the victory “a tennis match”.
Rashford’s 38th-minute winner was his seventh of the season, and Ten Hag was asked if he can become an elite forward.
“He already is,” Ten Hag said. “If you score 100 for Manchester United before you are 25. But it’s about trophies to win with your club, and I think he can develop even more.
“Two headers [in consecutive games]: we’ve worked a lot on that, we had to improve, and you see what’s happening. He is much more consistent and resilient – already a great player but still room for improvement. Where it will end [his career] who knows, but I am sure it will be great.”
Rashford’s goal came on the 85th anniversary of United’s youth system providing a player for every matchday squad. “The header was a hammer from Marcus,” Ten Hag said.
“It’s so great as a player out of the academy, a striker gets his 100th goal on the 85th anniversary so he is really representing Man United. Tomorrow [Monday] is his 25th birthday, a great present I would say.”
The manager was less enthused regarding United’s second-half performance. “It turned into, I call it a tennis match, one end to the other – but we have great defenders, and a great keeper,” he said.
Towards the end David de Gea made two standout saves and Harry Maguire, returning to the league starting XI for the first time since August, made a late block from Jarrod Bowen.
Rashford’s goal came in front of the England manager, Gareth Southgate. “I am pleased that I have managed to score and it’s always good to score regardless of whether Gareth is watching or not,” the forward said.