Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said he kept his trust in goalscorer Marcus Rashford after the teenager’s decisive goal secured a place in the Europa League semifinal.
Rashford sent United into the last four with an extra-time strike in a breathless encounter with Anderlecht.
England’s last European representatives came into the quarterfinal second leg boosted by Sunday’s surprisingly dominant win against Premier League leaders Chelsea and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s away goal.
The Armenian struck again early on but United were given a scare, with Anderlecht captain Sofiane Hanni bringing the tie level, before Rashford capped a man-of-the-match display with the goal that secured a 2-1 extra-time triumph and a 3-2 aggregate win.
Mourinho, who has now equalled the record of Sir Alex Ferguson and Giovanni Trapattoni by reaching a 10th European semifinal as a manager, said: “I think we had 17 shots and 10 on target but the game was difficult.
“Someone could watch the match and say total domination but they started better than us and had good chances and controlled the game for half an hour.
“At 1-1 you are at risk. Okay you speak about his [Rashford’s] qualities but he was not scoring a goal since September. I kept the confidence in him.
“Some players don’t know what makes me trust a player, but Marcus I trust.
“In spite of being a young kid, other guys can look at him. We have great examples of fighters, of people with the right mentality.”
Rashford had been frustrated before scoring the winner, making a mess of a one-on-one opportunity with Anderlecht’s goalkeeper Ruben and firing another chance into the side netting from close range after being played in by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who limped off at the end of the 90 minutes with an apparent injury.
But Rashford was undeterred. He said: “All you can do is keep trying to create chances and that is what we kept doing,
“We pinned them back in the second half and started pushing as a team, which is what the game needed at that time.
“We had a lot of chances and could have scored a lot of goals but sometimes games go like that. We got one in the end and everyone is happy now.
“You just have to keep going and hope you get another chance. We have done it the hard way but none of that matters now.”
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