Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag labelled Marcus Rashford “unstoppable” after the England forward continued his fine form to earn his side a 2-1 victory over Manchester City on Saturday.
Rashford scored for the ninth successive home match in all competitions to snatch a late win for United over its city rival, moving Ten Hag’s team to within a point of the champion in the standings.
Having been booed by his own supporters last season, Rashford’s turnaround has been remarkable, with his close-range finish earning United another victory to continue its overall renaissance.
Rashford took a knock in the first half, but carried on after the break, with Ten Hag revealing the in-form 25-year-old played through the pain in the second period to guide his team to a much-celebrated success.
“He learned already, he knows that in top football you have to suffer, you have to sacrifice, you have your painful moments, especially a player like he is, he is unstoppable,” Ten Hag said.
“Opponents will be tough to stop him, you have to deal with it, but he is capable of dealing with it. He keeps focusing on his chances, and in the end, he got rewarded.”
United has now won nine consecutive matches in all competitions, its longest run since a sequence of nine between December and January in 2016-17 under Jose Mourinho.
Few expected United to mount a title challenge this season, having earned its lowest-ever Premier League points tally last term, but United trails Arsenal by only five points ahead of the leaders’ trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
“Fans may dream, but we are not,” Ten Hag added. “We have to keep our feet on the ground and realise our game still has a lot to improve.
“We have improved, that is obvious. But there is still a long way to go. A lot of aspects in our play we have to improve, but we are progressing, that is obvious.”
City seemed to be in control of the game at Old Trafford following Jack Grealish’s opener just the hour mark, 193 seconds coming off the bench, but Bruno Fernandes set United on its way to a comeback 12 minutes from time.
Coach Pep Guardiola was not happy with the VAR after the equaliser was initially ruled out for offside against Rashford, who let Fernandes take the shot off him.
“They (United) are an incredible transitional team,” Guardiola said. “In the first half, we started really well, controlled really well, but we were not in the right positions enough.
“Rashford is offside, Bruno is not offside, the question is interference. When one player on the edge of the 18-yard box shoots and one player is in front of the keeper but doesn’t touch the ball, it is disallowed all the time.
“The decision is they didn’t believe Rashford was intervening in this stadium. This is Old Trafford, we have to play much better, like Anfield, we have to do better.”