Erik ten Hag greets ‘unstoppable’ Marcus Rashford as Man Utd heads towards Wembley

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has praised the “unstoppable” Marcus Rashford after his superb goal against Nottingham Forest helped his side put one foot in the Carabao Cup final.

Rashford scored for the 10th time in 10 games since the World Cup, putting United on track for a full 3-0 victory in the first leg of the semi-final at the City Ground.

The 25-year-old is arguably a formidable player in the country at the moment and showed a moment of individual brilliance as he ran 50 yards before transforming at the near post.

Wout Weghorst’s first goal for the club and a late goal from Bruno Fernandes mean only a miraculous turnaround in the second leg at Old Trafford next week will keep United from reaching the February final.

If Rashford maintains this form, scoring in all the League Cup rounds so far, he may very well shoot United to trophies, ending a five-year trophy stance.

Ten Hag said: “There are more players who are playing really well, but I’m happy with Marcus’ performance and his development.

“He has been growing since the start of the season and continues to do so, and our goal with him, which he is responsible for, is to keep that process going.

“If he’s in that mood, in that spirit, he’s unstoppable and the team needs to put him in the right positions.

“Also possession of the ball, we have a plan but in the end there is also intuition, the creativity of a person like Rashy is about creating chances.”

The Dutchman was also pleased that January recruit Weghorst broke the duck after his loan spell from Burnley.

“For strikers, it’s always important (to score),” he said. “I think he did a great job at Crystal Palace and Arsenal with pressing, goals and movements.

Bruno’s goal at Crystal Palace was part of that because he makes the right move to the front post.

Rashford’s goal at Arsenal was part of that, pulling away the mid-half, but strikers are there to score goals and when they don’t score they’re not happy.

Wout Weghorst scored his first goal for Man Utd

Wout Weghorst scored his first goal for Man Utd (Mike Egerton/PA)

“So it’s important for him, for his confidence, that he scored that goal. And that’s one way to score goals – being in the box, being present.”

Forest, whose League Cup history is almost as rich as United’s with four titles in 12 years under Brian Clough, will see it as a missed opportunity to head to Old Trafford next week with something to hold on to.

They had a strong period in the first half with Sam Surridge having a disallowed goal and Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson having decent chances.

But Cooper knows next week is almost impossible.

“It’s a really disappointing result. In a two-legged affair, the last thing you want to do is go to Old Trafford for the return match with the result we got tonight,” he said.

A late strike from Bruno Fernandes almost killed the tie

Late strike from Bruno Fernandes almost killed the draw (Mike Egerton/PA)

“This is the most disappointing thing. The way of goals, from the time they are achieved to the way they are created.

“Rashford is one of the most fit players in the country so letting him do what he did was disappointing.

“You never know if going to Old Trafford 2-0 would be hard but you never know so giving up late and not accepting what we had tonight is disappointing.

“I think next week will be extremely difficult. We have to be very professional and set goals to give ourselves a chance and also make sure we get in and out of the game in a better place than we came in.

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