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Marcus Rashford: Man Utd forward praised by Erik ten Hag after surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo record | Football News

Erik ten Hag praised Marcus Rashford’s belief and focus as he struck his 30th goal of the season for club and country to surpass Cristiano Ronaldo’s European goalscoring tally for Manchester United.

Rashford’s long-range stunner sealed a 1-0 win for United at Real Betis as Ten Hag’s side progressed to the Europa League quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate victory.

The 25-year-old stepped up after Ronaldo’s contract was mutually terminated during the World Cup, scoring 19 goals in 24 games for his club post-Qatar, and has now overtaken his former team-mate to become United’s sixth-highest scorer in European football (25).

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Jamie O’Hara reacts to Marcus Rashford’s brilliant strike for Manchester United against Real Betis.

Ten Hag was pleased to see Rashford brush off his mistake after missing a glorious chance just moments before his swerving strike sealed the win for United on Thursday night in Spain as he backed his top scorer to keep finding the back of the net.

“The team was creating some chances,” Ten Hag said. “Rashy had some chances before and he missed some but he kept his belief, he kept trying, and got his reward.

“All good strikers know that not every chance you will get 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 in.”

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford shoots to score his side's first goal during the Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match between Real Betis and Manchester United at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville, Spain, Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
Marcus Rashford’s sweet strike secured the win for Man Utd

Asked about Rashford’s form, Ten Hag added: “(His form) tells you something about the team’s performance. It tells you something about him.

“If he keeps the focus, and makes sure he has the energy, the way, and the way he has to play in that system and style, he will get in scoring positions and then it’s about him, he has the ability to finish.”

‘Brilliant Bruno getting better and better’

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, left, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match between Real Betis and Manchester United at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville, Spain, Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
Bruno Fernandes (right) avoided picking up a suspension at Real Betis

Ten Hag had always suspected United would have to ride out an early storm on Thursday and was happy with the way his side eventually took control in the second half.

Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro also managed to play a substantial part without picking up bookings that would have ruled them out of the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

The latter’s four-match domestic ban 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 good recovery,” Ten Hag said. “He is a very good athlete, he has so much energy, and he can play in so many roles.

“Tactically he is brilliant, he can play in roles and we can benefit from him, we can overload areas, we can outplay opponents, we create good situations and create chances.

“He is very important in the counter press, and pressing or transitions. He is a good example for the team.

“In recent weeks, he has been in brilliant form and he looks like he is getting better from game to game.”

‘Now it is up to Pellistri to contribute’

Fernandes was joined in the line-up in Spain by Facundo Pellistri, who made his first United start since joining the club from Penarol in October 2020.

“I think he deserved to come in,” Ten Hag said of the 21-year-old Uruguay international, who had only made six substitute appearances before Thursday.

“He had a good training performance, you see him progressing, getting stronger, good game against Leeds, against Betis.

“To start is more difficult, we have seen that, but when the game goes on he came in and got belief, you see his abilities.

“He had some good dribbles, good runs in behind, and some good crosses, defending he did his job, so I am pretty pleased with his performance.

“For him it is a step up. Now it’s up to him, to get rhythm and contribute to the team.”

Pelligrini: I’m proud of my Real Betis team

As for Betis, all focus is on domestic action after former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini oversaw a 5-1 aggregate defeat in this last-16 tie.

“When we drew Man Utd we knew we would be in for a difficult match,” the LaLiga side’s boss said.

“They are a Champions League team playing in the Europa League. We had three good chances to score but I am proud of this team for the fight they showed.”

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