Every time you see Rashford line up a long-range free-kick like that, your heart sinks. There’s a sense of inevitability that the ball will balloon way over the bar, with the exception of that strike in the League Cup against Chelsea, now nearly 18 months ago.
United can use set-pieces more effectively than that, with the aerial prowess of Maguire, Pogba and McTominay in their ranks. The front six look generally disjointed. Greenwood is isolated, James’ work is almost exclusively coming off the ball, Fernandes is getting uppity and Rashford’s not been on it.
That yellow card might be inhibiting Pogba and McTominay might come up with a goal but he is not going to dictate play. Completely out of nothing. So much so that the BT Sport TV directors weren’t ready for it. But it shows Marcus Rashford at his absolute best, making the kind of run he’s become famed for. The touch and the finish weren’t bad, either.
Lindelof was bought partly for his distribution yet we have not seen enough of that. It was a terrific pick-out and Rashford made it look very easy with the control and finish.
Now they have the goal, United should be looking to cut loose. Granada have been dependent on breakaways yet looked about as threatening as Soldado when he was up front for Spurs.It’s still early in the game but United should already be looking to box the tie off tonight so they can rotate next week.
Suspect the nature of the game will now benefit United. 1-0 isn’t enough for them to feel comfortable, but it isn’t a great scoreline for Granada to take to Old Trafford either. The hosts will have to become more adventurous, which should open up more spaces for the likes of Rashford and Greenwood to exploit. Advantage United now, in a big way.