UCL: Rashford nets hat-trick as Manchester United crushes RB Leipzig

Marcus Rashford scores a quickfire hat-trick as Manchester United overwhelms RB Leipzig 5-0 at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring United's fifth goal on Wednesday night. - REUTERS

Substitute Marcus Rashford scored a superb quickfire hat-trick for Manchester United as it overwhelmed Germany’s RB Leipzig 5-0 at Old Trafford in Champions League group H on Wednesday.

The striker, in the headlines recently due to his campaigning over free school lunches, showed he has not been distracted from his day job as he came off the bench with 27 minutes left and led United to an impressive victory.

MATCH CENTRE

Rashford is only the second United player to score a hat-trick as a substitute after his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did so against Nottingham Forest in 1999.

“I think the manager wanted me to up the tempo. That for us means going forward. There was definitely spaces there. We looked dangerous throughout and that we could score every time we went forward,” Rashford said.

'Team performance'

“It was a real team performance. The ones who started did well and the substitutes did well too.”

Having won at Paris St Germain in its opening game, United is now in a commanding position in the group and is beginning to look like a squad with real strength in depth.

Solskjaer opted to leave Bruno Fernandes alongside Rashford on the bench and handed starts to Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek in midfield.

ALSO READ | Old Trafford can safely host 23,500 fans - United

Mason Greenwood, also restored to the starting line-up, opened the scoring in the 21st minute, delivering a clinical finish after being slipped through by Pogba. The VAR review suggested Greenwood may have been narrowly offside but the goal was allowed to stand.

Leipzig, which reached the semifinals in last season’s competition, stuck in the game well and could have drawn level when Ibrahima Konate’s header was kept out by David De Gea.

 

Rashford came on for Greenwood in the 63rd minute and soon set about deciding the match. The England striker raced on to a long ball from Fernandes to make it 2-0 in the 74th minute, with the initial offside call being overturned on review.

Rashford made it 3-0 after Fred robbed Marcel Sabitzer and Anthony Martial added the fourth from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Sabitzer.

The hat-trick, inside 19 minutes, was completed in stoppage time when Rashford blasted home after good work from Martial cutting in from the left.

Solskjaer's United finally has strength in depth

Manchester United's rout of RB Leipzig on Wednesday showed that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally has the strength in depth that was sorely missing last season.

The result against last season's semifinalists was all the more impressive given that Solskjaer gave key players a rest from the starting line-up and fielded an untested midfield combination.

Marcus Rashford, who struck three times after coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute, was allowed to start on the bench given the confidence Solskjaer now has in Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, who both scored, in his attack.

Bruno Fernandes was held back for the second half as well with new signing Donny van de Beek given his first start outside of the EFL Cup.

Paul Pogba has not started since the 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham, but was recalled along with Nemanja Matic.

It was not until Fernandes and Rashford were on the field that United ran away with the game but as Solskjaer noted, the basis had been built without them.

“Marcus Rashford came on and did well but the groundwork was there from the team, that's what you want that from the subs. What a shift they put in. Leipzig are a high press, the intensity, so we had to dig deep,” he said.

“We had to rest a few because the season is relentless, so we used the squad. This group is coming together. The more quality and spirit you have the more you get the performance.”

There was even a cameo appearance for new signing Edinson Cavani, who had a goal disallowed in the latter stages, but after being forced to over-play a number of players last term, Solskjaer can now rotate like other big clubs.

“We made some changes today because of (Arsenal on) Sunday as you have to be ready for that. We need to pick up points,” the Norwegian said.

 

Alex Telles tests positive for COVID-19

Manchester United defender Alex Telles has tested positive for COVID-19 but is showing no symptoms and is expected to return to action soon, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

Telles, who arrived at Old Trafford from Porto earlier this month, missed the weekend's goalless draw with Chelsea and was absent from United's matchday squad for Wednesday's 5-0 Champions League win over RB Leipzig.

“Telles has tested positive for coronavirus so he's been out for a few days,” Solskjaer told reporters on Wednesday. “No symptoms though, so he'll be fine. Back soon.”

The Brazilian full back thanked fans for their support.

“I want to say that I am fine, isolated and soon I will be back with all my strength to help my team mates,” he said on Instagram.

  Dugout videos