Erik ten Hag praises Marcus Rashford's 'focus' after stunning goal against Betis

Forward's 25th goal for United in Europe earned a 1-0 win and passage through to the Europa League quarter-finals.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, right, speaks to goalscorer Marcus Rashford after the game against Real Betis. Getty
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Erik ten Hag praised Marcus Rashford's perseverance and quality as the in-form striker bagged the only goal against Real Betis to seal Manchester United's place in the Europa League quarter-finals.

United travelled to Seville with one foot already in the draw after demolishing the Spanish side 4-1 at home in last week's first leg.

Betis made life difficult for United during the first half at a raucous Estadio Benito Villamarin, which was silenced in the 55th minute when Rashford rifled home from 25 yards.

Rashford's stunner came minutes after he had uncharacteristically blazed over a glorious chance, but his manager praised the England star for maintaining his composure.

“The team was creating some chances,” Ten Hag said. “Rashy had some chances before and he missed some but he kept his belief, he kept trying, and got his reward.

“All good strikers know that not every chance you will get a goal but at this level, you don’t create five or six chances in a game so one of the two has to be in."

Rashford’s 25th United goal in major European competitions was his 19th in 24 matches since returning from the World Cup.

Ten Hag added: “If he keeps the focus, and makes sure he has the energy, the way, and the way he has to play in that system and style, he will get in scoring positions and then it’s about him, he has the ability to finish.”

Ten Hag gave 21-year-old Uruguay winger Facundo Pellistri his first United start since joining the club from Penarol in October 2020 and the Dutchman was impressed by what he saw.

“I think he deserved to come in,” Ten Hag said of Pellistri, who had only made six substitute appearances before Thursday.

“He had a good training performance, you see him progressing, getting stronger, good game against Leeds, against Betis.

“To start is more difficult, we have seen that, but when the game goes on he came in and got belief, you see his abilities.

“He had some good dribbles, good runs in behind, and some good crosses, defending he did his job, so I am pretty pleased with his performance.

“For him it is a step up. Now it’s up to him, to get rhythm and contribute to the team.”

The draw for the Europa league quarter-finals takes place on Friday.

Updated: March 17, 2023, 6:14 AM