Ibrahimovic and Rashford show Man
Utd have wealth of attacking options
The Swede scored a storybook goal in
the opening four minutes, but Rashford
came on to change the game in
United’s favour with a fearless display.
It took Zlatan Ibrahimovic just 194
seconds to show Manchester United
fans exactly what he is all about but
Marcus Rashford’s second-half display
in the 5-2 victory over Galatasaray on
Saturday reminded Jose Mourinho that
he has more than just a single
superstar option up front.
Ibrahimovic’s debut was always going
to be the headline attraction of the
evening in Gothenburg, and his
acrobatic fourth-minute goal ensured
that the Swedish branch of United’s
supporters club got exactly what they
came to see. Yet United looked set for
defeat when the former Paris Saint-
Germain star left the field, and it was
Rashford who ended up making the
game-winning impact.
Having seen their Monday clash with
Manchester City in Beijing lost to the
weather, United arrived in Sweden still
smarting from a 4-1 defeat to Borussia
Dortmund last time out. And for long
spells of the first half a repeat of that
lacklustre performance seemed likely to
be on the horizon as Mourinho’s men
were given the run-around by
Galatasaray’s quick passing style, with
the Turks heading in at the interval 2-1
Yet Rashford replaced Ibrahimovic at
half-time as one of five changes and
quickly made the sort of impact which
will have left a lasting impression on
both the crowd and the manager. First,
his excellent interplay with Antonio
Valencia opened the way for Wayne
Rooney to equalise, then he went on a
mazy run which ended with Fernando
Muslera having no choice but to haul
him down for a penalty which Rooney
deposited confidently.
Further goals came via Marouane
Fellaini and Juan Mata as United made
the most of the space becoming more
apparent later in the game, and
Mourinho will head back to Manchester
delighted by much of what he saw from
his side. There were multiple angles of
attack, plenty of players showing for
the balls and bundles of confidence. It
was nothing like the sort of football the
supporters were forced to get used to
under Louis van Gaal.
But surely the best thing was the
abundance of attacking options
suddenly opening up for Mourinho in
terms of selection. Those in attendance
at the Ullevi Stadium will rightly boast
of having been at Ibrahimovic’s goal-
scoring debut, but the Portuguese will
be reassured after this display that the
Swede is only a fraction of his
resources in the final third.
And it is the youngest of those options
which continues to be one of the most
appealing. It is astounding to even
consider how much of an unknown
Rashford was just six short months
ago, yet he was one of England’s few
highlights at Euro 2016 and the early
signs suggest he is ready to step up his
game even further in the battle with
Ibrahimovic for a starting shirt.
Mourinho would have been happy with
a Zlatan goal in a 1-0 win, and it would
certainly have made things easy for the
headline writers. But Rashford’s
performance in a stirring United
comeback will surely give the United
boss so much more satisfaction as he
looks ahead to the weekly conundrum
of who should get the nod between his
superstar centre-forward and the
pretender to Ibrahimovic’s throne.