Manchester United 5-1 FC Midtjylland (Agg: 6-3): Marcus Rashford shines on debut
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 26/02/16 8:49am
Marcus Rashford scored twice on his debut as Manchester United beat Midtjylland 5-1 to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa League with a 6-3 aggregate victory.
Deputising for Anthony Martial, who picked up an injury in the warm-up, Rashford struck twice in 12 second-half minutes to put the tie beyond a stubborn Midtjylland side at Old Trafford.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, the Danish champions extended their aggregate advantage through Pione Sisto on 27 minutes, but United hit back as the impressive Memphis Depay forced Nikolay Bodurov to turn the ball into his own net.
United were denied a half-time lead when Mikkel Andersen saved Juan Mata's penalty, but the Reds dominated after the interval as Rashford's double, and goals from Ander Herrera and Depay, sealed United's passage into the next round.
Louis van Gaal's depleted squad took another blow ahead of kick-off as Martial picked up an injury in the warm-up, with academy graduate Rashford handed his full debut up front.
Chris Smalling and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson failed to recover in time for Thursday's game which led to United naming Michael Carrick and debutant Joe Riley in a make-shift back four.
Despite this, in the opening stages United contained a passive Midtjylland side with relative ease as the visitors seemed content in preserving their first-leg lead.
Rashford, 18, appeared unfazed by his last-minute call-up, producing a bright and industrious display as he called Andersen into action with a low drive on 16 minutes.
Jesse Lingard then deflected Filip Novak's clearance into the side-netting of the Midtjylland goal as United failed to convert their early dominance into goals.
And United were punished shortly after as the visitors, with their first attack, stunned Old Trafford with a goal on the break, with Sisto rounding Daley Blind and Carrick before drilling a low effort past Sergio Romero just before the half-hour.
The goal sparked United into life in the final third and they were level within five minutes as Bodurov turned Depay's low cross beyond his own 'keeper.
United then had a chance to complete a quick turnaround as Andre Romer sent Herrera flying in the area with a clumsy challenge, but Andersen got down well to his left to tip Mata's spot kick away on 43 minutes.
Midtjylland had to withstand a United barrage as the hosts flew out of the traps in the second half, but Morgan Schneiderlin and Herrera both spurned great chances within five minutes of the restart.
Rashford, however, proved to be more decisive in front of goal as he ghosted into space in the area to turn Mata's brilliant cut-back home on 63 minutes to put United ahead on the night and level in the tie.
As United pushed for the overall lead, Lingard was booked for simulation on 72 minutes following Romer's rash-looking challenge, a booking which rules him out of United's next European tie.
But, again, it was Rashford who crucially found the net three minutes later, drifting into space at the back post to convert Guillermo Varela's exquisite cross.
As Midtjylland began to tire it turned into an exhibition for the hosts. Herrera sealed the victory three minutes from time with a well-taken penalty, after Depay's goal-bound shot was blocked by Kian Hansen's arm.
And, after Romer was dismissed for a second bookable offence, the impressive Depay capped off a fine individual display with low, driven effort in the final minute as United avoided a potential cup banana skin in style.