Sport

EPL: Rashford key player in Manchester United 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest

With a 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, Marcus Rashford maintained his impressive run of form as Manchester United inched closer to the top four in the Premier League.

Rashford scored the first goal and set up Anthony Martial for the second as United closed the gap on fourth-placed Tottenham to one point. Rashford is coming off an impressive World Cup run with England.

By the time Fred added a final flourish to the triumph that Rashford led, he had already left the field.

The 25-year-old, who has returned to form this year, scored his eighth goal in 13 games for club and country while maintaining a real threat the entire game.

The way he worked in attack with Martial and Antony suggests that United won’t miss the absent Cristiano Ronaldo at all.

Erik ten Hag’s team will be making a serious push to clinch those Champions League spots and hold onto them throughout the second half of the season, especially with the possibility of additions next month.

This game went a little better for Forest—who had a goal disallowed by VAR—than their 8-1 defeat to United in 1998, but they are still in the bottom three, and things won’t get any easier with Chelsea visiting on New Year’s Day.

Steve Cooper’s team will have been anxious to see what would happen at Old Trafford after conceding six at Manchester City and five at Arsenal.

What happened in the game?

As early as the fourth minute, Wayne Hennessey, who was making his first Premier League start since January, deflected a Tyrell Malacia shot onto the post, giving the audience a preview of what might be in store.

The following 15 minutes actually held promise for Forest as they probed United without seeming to make any progress, but everything fell apart in just four minutes.

Rashford raced to the front post to meet Christian Eriksen’s low corner and swept into the far corner to tie Eric Cantona for the most Premier League goals for United with 64 in the 19th minute as the hosts took the lead.

Just 185 seconds later, United launched a brilliant counterattack that resulted in a 2-0 score. This time, Rashford was the creator, breaking quickly and setting up Martial, whose low shot squirmed through the hands of Hennessey, who will not be too eager to see any replays.

Robert Madley, a VAR official, unfortunately saw many replays of the goal Forest believed they had scored five minutes before halftime.

Ryan Yates appeared to head Ryan Lodi’s inviting cross into the far corner.

When it became clear that the ball had deflected off Willy Boly on the way in, Madley first looked for a handball on Yates because his arm was extended, and then he decided the defender was in an offside position, preventing Forest from scoring their first away goal since August.

Early in the second half, Forest needed a goal, and they briefly threatened, but United continued to create the important opportunities.

Another lightning strike was started by Rashford, who fed Bruno Fernandes, who set up Antony, but Hennessey made a good save.

The goalkeeper was kept busy and went some way toward making up for that first-half mistake by making a string of stops to keep the score at two. This was his first game since being sent off for Wales at the World Cup.

He stopped Martial with a deft stop, stopped Rashford with his feet, and then deflected Casemiro’s chipped attempt.

Ten Hag’s team appeared to be doomed to settle for two goals, but Fred scored the game-winning goal in the game’s final five minutes thanks to Casemiro’s astute pass.

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