Marcus Rashford epitomised the sluggish Manchester United performance in the second half of the FA Cup win over Aston Villa, according to one observer.
United edged through to the fourth round, where they will play Middlesbrough, with a 1-0 win on Monday. But while Scott McTominay opened the scoring after only eight minutes, the Red Devils struggled thereafter.
Villa had chances before half time and were much the better team after the break. In fact, Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins both had goals ruled out.
At the other end for Man Utd, Rashford played with Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani in interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 system.
However, Rashford struggled and on one particular casion, the Old Trafford faithful shouted his way when he did not react to Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez spilling the ball in the box.
The England international came off four minutes from time. Nevertheless, former United man Micky Gray insisted that he was lucky not to come off earlier.
Gray told talkSPORT: “Marcus Rashford, I’m sorry, waving your arms around, I’m sorry mate, but if you keep giving the ball away like that then it’s only a matter of time before you’re off this football field.
“It’s happened too many times this season.
“His body language is absolutely shocking at the moment, not just from him, but from a lot of these Manchester United players.
“Their performance in this second half has been absolutely awful.”
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Villa thought they had taken the lead when Ezri Konsa headed across goal for Ings to tap in. However, VAR ruled that Jacob Ramsey was blocking Cavani from potentially tackling Konsa.
Then, Watkins finished but the linesman correctly raised the offside flag.
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Still, United weathered the storm and controlled the last 20 minutes of the clash.
Rangnick said of his reaction to Villa upping the ante: “In the second half we were on the counter-attack and we could have made more of those situations.
“We took the wrong decisions at times but when we changed to a diamond in midfield we had more control.
“In the last 20 minutes we had more control. We fought well as a team together when it was important. In the end it was a good win. That was our goal, to proceed to the next round.”
United face Villa again on Saturday, this time in Premier League action.