Marcus Rashford bagged a brace as Manchester United cruised to a 4-1 win over Burton Albion in the League Cup.
Jesse Lingard’s deflected effort saw United go into the break 3-0 up before Anthony Martial added to the score in the second half.
Burton did pull a goal back in the closing stages but it did little to dampen the mood in Old Trafford.
Here’s what we learned from the encounter.
The bulk of United’s goals last season was scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic so when he was injured towards the end of the campaign, the worry within the club was understandable. However, Rashford stepped up and delivered.
Even though the team have many more sources of goals this time around, it’s clear that Romelu Lukaku is their focal point in attack. However, Rashford’s performance against Burton gave United assurances in the event of an injury to the big Belgian.
The 20-year-old scored a fine brace and set up Martial for the fourth goal as well, linking up with the Frenchman with aplomb. Rashford is not a like-for-like Lukaku replacement but what he lacks in brute force, he makes up for in clever combinations while continuously becoming more clinical as well.
Ibrahimovic may be gearing up for a return to offer Jose Mourinho cover in the striking department but on current form, Rashford may well be ahead of him in the pecking order to start up front.
There’s nothing quite like watching Martial in full flight. He’s one of the more elegant dribblers in world football, gliding across the surface and dropping the shoulder so effectively.
He’s started the season in fine form and has grown in confidence with every goal. However, despite scoring on the night and being central to some superb attacking moves, he did himself a disservice by not adding to his tally.
Moreover, he seemed less effective when moving centrally after Rashford was taken off, coming closest from a set-piece. If anything, it reassured Mourinho of his decision to deploy him as a winger.
United’s starting line-up on the night made their intentions clear. There was no messing about as Mourinho fielded a strong side, every member of which wouldn’t look out of place against Southampton in their upcoming Premier League fixture.
Rather than opting for a few reserves, Mourinho afforded playing time for the likes of Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling among others. In fact, only five from the squad that faced Everton over the weekend were excluded from the fold.
Scott McTominay did come on as second half substitute while Joel Pereira got his chance in goal during the closing stages as well but the quality of the personnel involved not only boasted the strength of the squad but also Mourinho’s conscious decision to progress from the opening round unscathed.
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