Jose Mourinho hails Marcus Rashford's work ethic after Europa League strike
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 05/05/17 7:21pm
Jose Mourinho praised Marcus Rashford after the forward's match-winning contribution against Celta Vigo settled their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday.
Rashford's free-kick proved decisive as Manchester United secured a 1-0 victory in Spain to put them in the driving seat ahead of next Thursday's return leg at Old Trafford.
The forward stepped up to curl home his 11th goal of the season and Mourinho said his set-piece success was the result of hard work on the training ground.
"He worked really hard and created problems," Mourinho said. "He had a fantastic shot in the first half with that beautiful save.
"The free-kick is work. He works every day, he loves to work. Sometimes the training session finishes for the group and he keeps doing his individual work with my assistants.
"The free-kick is really well taken, I think the goalkeeper has no chance."
When asked why Rashford was preferred to Daley Blind or Paul Pogba on the set piece, Mourinho added: "He trains, he enjoys the work. Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] is not here.
"That position is not Paul's favourite position so he took it and it was a great free-kick. The ball was fast and the goalkeeper made a little movement, and with the speed of the ball it was impossible to save."
Celta 'keeper Sergio Alvarez made three excellent saves to frustrate United before Rashford's second-half strike.
The away goal puts United in a strong position to reach their first Europa League final but Mourinho admitted the scoreline could have been even better for his side.
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"I think in the first half Sergio had a couple of very important saves and the way we started the game, we controlled the game in the first half," he continued.
"We deserve a better result but the opponent is difficult, the match was difficult, the stadium was difficult, so I cannot be happier with the players and their work."