EPL

Solskjaer confident goals will flow for Rashford

By Sports Desk June 29, 2020

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expects Marcus Rashford to soon be back among the goals for Manchester United.

England forward Rashford has 22 goals for club and country this season, although he is yet to find the net since top-flight football resumed from its coronavirus hiatus.

United's return to Premier League action at Tottenham was Rashford's first appearance since suffering a double stress fracture of his back.

Although the 22-year-old supplied a pair of assists for Anthony Martial in last week's 3-0 victory against Sheffield United, he also spurned a pair of glorious chances to get on the scoresheet.

After that match, Solskjaer urged his team to be more clinical as a collective, but he has no concerns over Rashford individually.

"Of course Marcus has been out for a while but I think he's looked sharp, he came on and looked sharp against Norwich," the United boss said ahead of Tuesday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Against Sheffield United he missed one or two chances but the goals he created is what we're focusing on and he's on his way to his best season ever.

"I'm looking forward to him getting more minutes and he'll definitely score a goal soon."

Rashford appeared as a substitute after the hour as Norwich City took United to extra-time in Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final at Carrow Road, with captain Harry Maguire proving a more unlikely matchwinner in the 118th minute.

A semi-final encounter against Chelsea awaits with United the form team in England – their unbeaten run stretching back 14 games to a mid-January reverse against Burnley at Old Trafford.

"The players are working really hard and want to do as well as they can and, for me, as a team we're trying to implement our ideas," Solskjaer said.

"Talk about 14 games, we can talk about the next one - go into the next game knowing you've won the previous game. It's a good place to be in."

United are firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish and victory at Brighton would move them level on points with Wolves in fifth and two shy of four-placed Chelsea – albeit having played a game more than Frank Lampard's Blues.

"I think every year you're in the Champions League is a great experience, for the players it's a step forward," Solskjaer added.

"For us it's what we're striving to do, winning trophies, and we need to focus on one game at a time and there are so many teams that want that place.

"We can't get distracted about looking too far ahead and onto the next one."

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    Pep Guardiola lauded Raheem Sterling's development after the attacker's hat-trick in Manchester City's 5-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

    Sterling's treble saw him move onto 27 goals this season, the most he has scored in a single campaign.

    Guardiola paid tribute to the England international, with Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva also on the scoresheet in the convincing win on Saturday.

    "All credit to [Sterling]. Not just for the three goals, it's important for what we have ahead of us," the Manchester City manager told a news conference.

    "His development as a player is because he wants to improve and we are so delighted with his performance.

    "Raheem himself knows exactly what he has to do. He's a huge competitor and is self-confident, aggressive, he loves to score goals.

    "We have wingers with the mentality to score goals which is so important."

    City's win saw them mathematically secure a top-four finish in the Premier League with three games remaining.

    However, they will have to wait until Monday to learn whether their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against a two-year European ban has been successful.

    Guardiola said he was "very" confident City would be successful, while adding they had proven they deserved their place in the Champions League.

    "It's the [CAS] decision, so it's so important. Of course it is. We have done what we have done, won our qualification on the pitch. No one can doubt this," he said.

    "It's been an outstanding season from Liverpool, and congratulations to them again for winning the Premier League.

    "In general, the level that we played at today has been quite similar for the whole season and now we're going to wait for Monday for the decision that will be taken."

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    City made a top-four finish mathematically certain, as well as all but wrapping up second place as a treble from Sterling, plus goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva, saw off sorry Brighton.

    It was a welcome away win on Saturday after three consecutive Premier League defeats on their travels, with a home game with Bournemouth up next before a key FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

    Sterling has six goals in his past five games and moved onto 27 in all competitions, making this his best scoring season.

    "The most important thing for me is trying to have goals to add value to the team," Sterling said to Sky Sports.

    "At the end of the day [it is most important] to try and win the FA Cup final and try to win the Champions League as well otherwise these goals don't mean anything.

    "I need to try and make these goals count.

    "I think the problem we have had this season is we have created a lot of chances, but last season and the season before we had finished them and buried games early on.

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    Sterling moved onto 17 Premier League goals and was asked if he was eyeing a late push for the golden boot, with Jamie Vardy five ahead of him atop the scoring charts.

    Sterling said: "I said to myself earlier that I'm on 14 now and I need to score a hat-trick – and I’m grateful that I scored a hat-trick."

    The England international was laughing as he attempted to answer what his intentions were for his hat-trick goal, which came in unusual circumstances nine minutes from time.

    He inadvertently scored a header – his second of the match – through the legs of goalkeeper Mat Ryan while he was falling to the ground having forced his way past two Brighton defenders.

    Sterling said: "I tried to flick it over his head, and I've seen the keeper come out and I have headed it in! It counts!"

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    Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City ran riot in a 5-0 away victory over Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.

    England international Sterling made it six goals in five games, moving on to 27 strikes in all competitions – his best scoring tally in a single season.

    His opener and a goal from Gabriel Jesus, who ended Saturday's match with two assists, ensured City were in complete control by half-time after making six changes to their starting XI.

    Sterling netted again and Bernardo Silva scored before the hour mark as Brighton, who remain eight points clear of the bottom three, had no answer.

    Nine minutes before the end, a determined Sterling grabbed his third.

    Jesus and Eric Garcia had already missed early chances by the time Sterling put the visitors in front after 21 minutes.

    He cut inside from the left and impressively found the far corner from 20 yards after collecting Jesus' headed lay-off.

    Jesus had a shot deflected onto the crossbar by Brighton defender Lewis Dunk and also showed some great footwork to create a chance which Riyad Mahrez narrowly fired wide.

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    De Bruyne cannoned a free-kick off the post shortly after the restart and City soon got their third after 53 minutes when Sterling headed in Mahrez’s in-swinging free-kick from inside the six-yard box.

    It was four in the visitors' next attack when Mat Ryan could not hold Bernardo Silva's deflected effort and Jesus kept the ball alive to allow the Portugal international to convert a simple follow-up.

    Sterling’s hat-trick goal came in unusual fashion, as he forced his way past Dunk and Adam Webster before somehow creeping a header between Ryan's legs while he fell to the ground, with a scrambling Dan Burn then helping it over the line.
     

    What does it mean? City emphatically end away-day blues

    City had lost their last three Premier League away games, while they had scored just three times in their last six top-flight matches on their travels, despite an expected goals figure of 13.

    They had no issues bringing those poor runs to a welcome end with a victory that all but secures second place in the Premier League after Chelsea's defeat against Sheffield United.


    Jesus impresses with Aguero out

    Brazil international Jesus scored his first goal since lockdown against Newcastle United last time out and, apart from the superb Sterling, was excellent as City's other standout in this game.

    He scored one and assisted two as well as being a constant threat in a lively 63-minute outing. He now has 20 goals and 10 assists in a season where he has become even more important with Sergio Aguero out injured.


    Brighton backline a concern

    Convincing home defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool and now City mean Brighton are not yet mathematically safe. Facing Pep Guardiola's side is a formidable task at the best of times, but their defending did themselves no favours here, with City players constantly finding themselves unmarked close to goal.


    What's next?

    City will likely make changes ahead of their FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal when they host struggling Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday, a day before Brighton could seal safety when they play away to Southampton.

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