Marcus Rashford saves Manchester United with a brace. The Red Devils gather in Cyprus to beat Omonia

After falling behind in the first half of their Europa League group stage match on Thursday, Manchester United were able to bounce back to win 3-2 away to Cypriot side Omonia. A brace from Marcus Rashford helped the team make up for defensive mistakes and Cristiano Ronaldo missed a shot as he chased the 700th goal of his club career.

Despite controlling possession in the first half, it was home team Omina who went into the break with the lead. A pass from Bruno Filipe led to three points for Omonia, where David De Gea had no chance. But it’s how the chance happened that sums up United’s woes so far this season. In Erik ten Hag’s attacking setup, one mistake can see the team caught out and that’s exactly what happened. After a poor performance in the Manchester derby, left back Tyrell Malacia was cut off the ball leading to Karim Ansarifard’s easiest goal ever.

Those mistakes saw Malacia stuck at fly-half for Luke Shaw and could cost him a key role at Manchester United after the team improved in the second period. Jadon Sancho, who was good at the defensive end but lost up front creating two chances and one shot, was also replaced at the break with Rashford coming on and the team remembered they had to win this game.

After Rashford’s introduction, it took just eight minutes for him to hit the back of the net. United left the entire Omonia defense in the dust with a perfect ball over the top and despite taking a nasty touch early on, Rashford was able to fire over his chance to level things.

He would keep the good times going by setting up substitute Anthony Martial before scoring from Ronaldo’s assist. There are questions about whether Ronaldo was going for a goal when Rashford hit the ball into an empty net, but it all counts. It wasn’t all smiles for United in the second half as Nicolas Panagiotou curled a superb shot past De Gea, but that’s why Rashford’s second insurance goal was so important in preserving the victory that keeps the United second in Group E behind Real Sociedad.

Here are some highlights from the match:

Through Rashford, anything is possible

Without Rashford in the squad, the Red Devils may still struggle in the bottom half of the Premier League. After only being involved in six goals during the 2021-22 season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see ten Hags leave Rashford, but he’s back to start as one of the first names on the team sheet. With two goals and an assist off the bench, Rashford was able to inspire United’s comeback as he has now been involved in eight goals in eight appearances this season. The whole attack went through Rashford when he came on and swinging on the right wing or as a centre-forward, defenses cannot affect him. His form has also kept Ronaldo on the bench in the Premier League and there are no signs of him slowing down anytime soon.

Where are the Hag’s ten depth options?

The Europa League has been a good test for United’s players to show they need more time in the Premier League and so far, people outside the ten Hag core rotation have not helped their cases with some players like Malacia hurting their chances them to start in the future. Despite Ronaldo’s assist, this game would have been invisible if he had taken his chances well during the match. Taking eight shots, only one tested the keeper with another clipped by Rashford for the assist on an open goal. Ronaldo came close, but it’s not enough to push for more Premier League minutes with a healthy Martial at the ten hag’s disposal.

In defence, Victor Lindelof and Malacia have not been covered in glory, but a depth option pushing for more minutes is Casemiro. Defensively, he won two of his three tackles while making seven recoveries to allow Christian Eriksen and Fernandes to push forward and create chances. More of that will be needed and it looks like Casemiro will take over a starting role from Scott McTominay sooner or later.

Who wants to be a left back?

Shaw came on and the team’s performance improved, but he wasn’t at his best, picking up a yellow card and creating no chances. Diogo Dalot is firmly the starter on the right, but the Ten Hag hasn’t seen enough of anyone to know who will take the role on the left. After two disappointing performances from Malacia, Shaw is likely to start against Everton on Sunday, but one of those players must show the ten Hags they deserve the role or there could be another new signing in January.

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