Marcus Rashford has been reflecting on Manchester United’s 2-1 fifth round FA Cup win over Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, hailing the influence brought by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Jose Mourinho’s men fell behind against the run of play through a sweetly hit Danny Graham strike before Mkhitaryan’s inch-perfect ball to Rashford restored parity by half-time.
Pogba and Zlatan were then introduced from the bench and combined beautifully to snatch the winner, with the 23-year-old’s long pass perfectly finding the Swede in the box.
And Rashford, speaking after the game, was quick to point out the influence generated by the trio on Sunday.
“It was a brilliant ball,” he said. “Most of their players were around him on that side of the pitch but he was able to look up and see my run and, thankfully, I could finish it off.”
“Sometimes it can be difficult [to score] but I just kept in my mind that the team was losing and I knew that I had to finish it off.
“It was good to have them [Pogba and Zlatan] come on. We had just been missing that little bit of something during the game. We had only had it in spurts but, when those two came on, it just gave us that bit of an edge and everyone knows what quality players they are and they showed that again.
“They [Chelsea] have one over on us so we will definitely be going there to win the game.
“At this stage of the competition, we are going to be coming up against top quality opposition no matter where you go. They are in good form, but so are we, and we will be looking to go there and win the game.”
For me, an 18-year-old, the FA Cup has always been something of a growingly obsolete, less relevant phenomenon, with European glory and, of course, the Premier League both serving as more tantalising prospects. I was not part of the generation that venerated the competition; I never saw what you may call ‘a proper cup tie’.
That said, Sunday’s win over Blackburn did feel like something you would see back in the eighties: an old, historic ground; the rain hammering down; United supporters packed behind one goal in their numbers; a scrappy encounter decided by one moment of sublime brilliance. It was, in many ways, a form of football very much alien to our generation, but one that I – and indeed the 7,823 reds packed behind the goal – very much relished.