Rashford injury sours routine Utd win over Everton

Sunday, Apr 09, 2023

MANCHESTER: Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag took aim at his side’s congested fixture schedule after Marcus Rashford limped off in a 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday.

Goals from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial edged United ever closer to a return to the Champions League next season as they moved up to third and opened up a six-point cushion over fifth-placed Tottenham.

But the three points came at a cost as Rashford hobbled off nine minutes from time, which could prove to be a major blow in the Red Devils’ quest for more silverware this season in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Ten Hag was not happy at the timing of the match as United were in action for the third time in less than six days after losing 2-0 at Newcastle last weekend and a 1-0 win over Brentford on Wednesday.

“We have to wait. He doesn’t look well,” said Ten Hag. “It’s due to the schedule. It can’t be that you play three games in six days and we have to protect the players.

“Everyone wants to see the best players on the pitch. Everyone wants to see great entertaining football and you need your best players.”

Only Jordan Pickford and some wayward United finishing prevented Everton from being on the end of a hiding even before the half-time whistle as the Toffees failed to do their bid to beat the drop any good.

Sean Dyche’s men remain outside the relegation zone only thanks to goal difference and could fall into the bottom three should other results go against them on Saturday.

“We have to be more clinical, more ruthless,” added Ten Hag. “This game has to be finished already by half-time.”

The former Ajax boss bemoaned his side’s reliance on Rashford for goals in midweek, but even he had a rare off day in front of goal before appearing to pull up with a groin injury.

Pickford got down low to his left to deny his international colleague when one-on-one before Rashford headed his next big chance wide.

Antony then struck the post from a well-worked corner and Aaron Wan Bissaka somehow skewed the rebound wide with the goal gaping.

The opening goal finally arrived on 36 minutes when McTominay, who has been in fine goalscoring form for Scotland, netted his first Premier League goal of the season.

Jadon Sancho picked out the midfielder’s run into the box and he smashed the ball past Pickford at his near post.

United’s inability to turn their dominance into goals highlighted their need for a new number nine, but Martial’s return to fitness is a welcome boost heading into the final two months of the season.

An error from Seamus Coleman ended any hope of an Everton fightback as he was robbed by Rashford, who squared for the Frenchman to tap home his first goal since February 19 minutes from time.

“A lot of it was self-inflicted,” said Dyche of his side’s defending. “The fight (to stay up) is there to see it’s about our mentality and I think it’s been growing.”