Ten Hag hails 'unstoppable' Rashford as Manchester United put one foot in League Cup final

A 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground puts United in control ahead of the return leg at Old Trafford

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag described Marcus Rashford as "unstoppable when he is in this mood" after the England forward continued his fine run of goalscoring form to help his side ease to a 3-0 victory at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup semi-finals first leg.

Rashford opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a superb solo goal to take his tally to 10 in as many games since returning from the World Cup, and to 18 for the season across all competitions. His fifth goal in the League Cup put the 25-year-old at the top of the competition's scorers list.

Wout Weghorst's first United goal just before the break and Bruno Fernandes' late strike then put United firmly in control of the tie ahead of next Wednesday's reverse fixture at Old Trafford.

"Once again, he is actually unstoppable when he is in this mood, when he is in this spirit, in this focus," Ten Hag said of Rashford. "But [he can] keep going when he keeps this focus. I know football. Football form is a thin line so don't drop off. We all know he can stay there but also the team can work for him and we can bring him in such positions that he can score such goals."

Ten Hag was also pleased to see Weghorst get off the mark for United following his loan move earlier this month from Burnley. The Dutch striker, who scored two late goals for the Netherlands to force extra time and penalties against Argentina in the World Cup quarter-finals, had spent the first half of the season on loan at Turkish side Besiktas.

"I know this is what he is capable of. He has a really good goalscoring record but I think we created some more, really good chances," Ten Hag said. "Also, I think on the right side there was a good action from Antony and he was on the rebound. It was a real striker's goal and therefore we got it.

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"He's a striker, they live for goals. And he is doing a great job in the games he has played so far. In all the games, good pressing, [and as a] good target. But of course, finally they want to score. And finally, they are there to be present in the box and to finish."

United's advantage after the first leg means they appear destined for a place in the final, with Newcastle United – 1-0 first-leg winners at Southampton – their likely opponents. But despite their position of strength, Ten Hag insisted it is no time for the players to get complacent.

Marcus Rashford scored his 18th goal of the season to help Manchester United win 3-0 at Nottingham Forest. Getty

"Yes, we have to play one game," he said. "We have to do the same, we have to invest, we have to prepare, we have to make a good gameplan and the players have to be focused."

Forest manager Steve Cooper admitted his side face an uphill task to turn around the tie.

“We’re really disappointed with the scoreline. The last thing you want to do is go to Old Trafford with the result we got," he said.

“I won’t lose sight of the fact we did alright at times in the first half and steadied the ship in the second half. But the naivety and the timing around the goals has made it incredibly tough for the second leg."

Updated: January 26, 2023, 4:44 AM