Rashford to the rescue as injury-hit Man Utd beat Midtjylland
Striker scores twice on debut as Man United come from behind against Danish minnows at Old Trafford
Manchester United 5 FC Midtjylland 1 [Utd win 6-3 on aggregate]
Manchester United are through to the last 16 of the Europa League, although not without a scare and not without another name to add to their lengthening injury list.
Ultimately, United proved too strong for their Danish visitors, who sensationally took the lead on 27 minutes through Pione Sisto, before the hosts asserted their authority in the second-half. The Old Trafford faithful may have found a new hero, too, in teenage striker Marcus Rashford, who scored twice on his debut.
His brace, on top of Nikolay Bodurov's own goal in the first-half, gave United the goals they needed to take a 4-3 aggregate lead in the tie.
United were leading, but Old Trafford knew another away goal for Midtjylland could be critical, but late strikes from Ander Herrera (a penalty) and Memphis Depay made the game safe and added a gloss to the scoreline that belied another less than convincing performance from the Red Devils, which included a first-half penalty miss from Juan Mata.
In fairness, however, United's preparations were thrown into disarray when Chris Smalling withdrew on Thursday with a shoulder problem, and Anthony Martial then injured a hamstring in the warm-up.
That handed Manchester-born Rashford his first start and the 18-year-old delivered two goals on a debut he'll never forget. "I wasn't worried about him. I'm always confident for that," said manager Louis van Gaal later. "I said to him at half-time, 'You have to be within the width of the goal and you shall score,' and you see he scores two goals, it is fantastic for him."
Midtjylland finished the evening with ten men after Andre Romer was sent off late-on for a second yellow card but the Danish side can be proud of their efforts over the two legs.
United deserve credit, too, for keeping their composure after going one down, and Van Gaal described the team spirit as "unbelievable". He added: "I hope that the fans have enjoyed this game as there has been a lot of spectacular football - there were a lot of attacking situations. It is unbelievable too when you see this in advance of the match when we lose Anthony Martial. At the end, 5-1 with many youngsters in the team is fantastic."
The injury to Martial, which Van Gaal later described as a "tight hamstring" takes to 16 the number of players on United's casualty list. "We have to cope with that," said Van Gaal. "We have to play Arsenal within two days which is, more or less, not easy to do as your players have to recover."