Juan Mata applauded the impact of Marcus Rashford after the 19-year-old striker scored the winner in Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat of Aston Villa on Saturday, sealing the visitors’ relegation in the process.
Rashford has been a revelation since his United debut against Midtjylland on February 25, starting 12 games in all competitions and scoring seven times, including his smart finish against Villa.
The England Under-21 international netted a stunning goal in Wednesday’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat of West Ham and was on the scoresheet again at Old Trafford, directing home following an inch-perfect cut-back from Antonio Valencia in the 32nd minute.
And Mata, who enjoyed a solid performance himself, believes Rashford’s attitude and humble nature stand him in good stead, urging the United academy product to finish the season in form.
“We are all so happy for him,” the Spaniard said.
“He is scoring goals, creating chances and his movement is very good. He needs to keep working hard, but he is a humble guy and full of confidence.
“I hope he can continue and score even more goals before the end of the season.”
The result keeps the pressure on rivals Manchester City, who occupy the final Champions League spot and, although stealing that berth from Manuel Pellegrini’s men is out of United’s hands, Mata is under no illusions as to what Louis van Gaal’s side’s targets are in the remainder of the season.
“Our aim is to win five games,” he added. “Obviously we are now depending on other results and other teams [to get into the top four], but we are clear that we have two objectives now; one to win the FA Cup and then to get into the Champions League.”