He’s in great shape: Erik ten Hag full of praise for Marcus Rashford

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has praised Marcus Rashford after the England forward scored an excellent solo goal in the 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Burnley.

United doubled their lead 12 minutes into the second half when Rashford, who scored three goals during the World Cup, ran the ball from his own half into the away box and drilled it Network.

This followed a close-range 27th-minute finish from Christian Eriksen, another of several featured players for United who had been to the World Cup, as Ten Hag’s men secured a place in the quarter-finals upon their return to action after the tournament in Qatar.

On Rashford, who has scored nine goals in total for United this season, Ten Hag said: “I think he’s invested a lot, again, with a lot of running behind the defensive line, and then scored a great goal in a dribble, great final.

Marcus Rashford, right, scored a brilliant goal against Burnley (Isaac Parkin/PA)

“I think he is in great shape and of course I hope he can keep his focus and performance.

“I think he is at a very good level, his performances are improving a lot from game to game. He is a constant threat, today but also in many other games this season, he has already scored many goals and also does a lot of work in defence, don’t forget that.

“I’m really happy with his performance and I hope and expect him to continue with this attitude and level of performance.”

The match was also United’s first since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, who left the club by mutual consent last month in the wake of his explosive TalkTV interview.

Asked after the Burnley match for his thoughts on Ronaldo’s departure, Ten Hag – who did not mention the Portuguese in his scheduled notes – stressed it was a matter he had already mentioned in the minutes during United’s recent trip in Spain, adding: “We have made a statement and are looking to the future”.

Then asked if it was good from his point of view that the matter was closed, he nodded and said: “So it is.”

While United had five players who had been to Qatar included in a strong starting XI, and three more who came off the bench, those who weren’t featured in the matchday squad included Harry Maguire, who was ill.

On the possibility of the England defender being involved in the Premier League match against Nottingham Forest next Tuesday, Ten Hag said: “Harry is ill, ill and I don’t know how it develops. We have to wait and then we’ll see if he’s available for Forest.”

League leaders Burnley, coached by former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, made threats several times – and almost benefited from some mistakes by United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka – but failed to bring about an upset.

Vincent Company

Vincent Kompany saw his team beat 2-0 (Dave Thompson/PA)

Kompany, who fielded a side showing two changes since their league win against Middlesbrough last weekend, said: “It was a good performance, honest, courageous, full of energy, and you look back at the possibilities we had, which makes you feel like just connecting with one of them could give you something maybe.

“I didn’t want us to tip over because we came to Old Trafford, and I don’t think we did at any point. There are definitely some positives for us to take away from the performance.

Asked if his team could have done more when Rashford scored, Kompany said: “We have a back line with young 20-year-olds. You handle it differently with time.

“I think the key thing for me is to have a quality player there. I think there is a positional error, whereby we are allowing space to guide us, but then you are in the hands of player quality.

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