Marcus Rashford looks like a "lean, fighting machine" according to former Manchester United captain Roy Keane.

The England international maintained his excellent form by giving United the lead in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

Rashford has scored 18 goals for the Red Devils this season, with only Manchester City's Erling Haaland (31) recording more for a Premier League club.

"We were pitch-side when the players came out and he looked lean. You wouldn't want to be up against him – all the best," Keane said to Sky Sports.

"He looks like a lean, fighting machine."

The 25-year-old has thrived under Erik ten Hag, showing an immense improvement on his five goals in 32 games (18 starts) from last season.

"Sometimes it's about confidence – there is where he's peaking now. He's played a lot of games for United and big games for England in the last few years," Keane added.

"Sometimes the penny drops for a player in terms of decision-making and putting the ball in the back of the net. And they've needed him.

"The question mark I've had over Marcus in the last few years is, has he got that personality to step up to the plate?

"United have had some great strikers over the years, and I think they need someone like that. Marcus has to say he wants that responsibility to be the main man. The best players turn up week in and week out. It looks like he's now enjoying that responsibility, which is great to see."

It was put to Keane that Rashford has thrived since the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo, having scored 10 goals in 10 games in all competitions since end of the 2022 World Cup, the most of any player for clubs in Europe's big-five leagues in that time.

"When a player leaves the club the responsibility goes onto another player," Keane replied.

"He's 25, not a child, sometimes when the timing is right you can be ready for that. He doesn't get the niggly injuries anymore with his groin, he seems to have cleared it up. He looks in a great place mentally, too, which is huge. He said he reckons he took too much on away from football – and being a top footballer is hard enough.

"So putting the other stuff on the back burner and focusing on being a top player for Manchester United has seen him get his priorities right."

Manchester United put one foot into the EFL Cup final with an assured 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday.

Goals for Marcus Rashford, Wout Weghorst – his first for the club – and Bruno Fernandes secured victory for the visitors at the City Ground.

After dropping points in back-to-back Premier League games against Crystal Palace and Arsenal, it marked a return to winning ways for Erik ten Hag's men.

For Steve Cooper's hosts though, it marks a bitterly disappointing result, with any chance of a comeback at Old Trafford now likely scotched.

United needed just six minutes to carve Forest open, with Rashford afforded space to scamper down the left wing and squeeze between two defenders before beating Wayne Hennessey at the near post.

Forest thought they had equalised with a superb breakaway finished by Sam Surridge in the 23rd minute, only for the VAR to deem the striker offside.

The hosts looked to be growing into the game after that but received a sucker punch on the stroke of half-time when Weghorst turned in after Antony's effort was parried.

Christian Eriksen nearly added a third nine minutes after the interval, his looping attempt hitting the crossbar.

With time running out, Forest called upon former United midfielder Jesse Lingard from the bench in the hope of salvaging something for the second leg.

But the result was put beyond doubt in the 89th minute, Fernandes drilling into the bottom-left corner to surely send United to Wembley.

Erik ten Hag wants Marcus Rashford to commit his future to Manchester United, who the Dutchman is aiming to turn into the best team in world football.

Rashford has scored eight goals in the last eight games and is United's top scorer this season.

The England international is averaging a goal every 124 minutes, having netted 17 in 28 appearances from 12.8 expected goals (xG).

Rashford's deal is up in 2024, but Ten Hag is confident a new contract will be agreed.

"This is the best place to be because we want to construct the best team – first in England, then Europe, then the world," said Ten Hag ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Nottingham Forest.

"It is confidential, talks between clubs and players, [but] he understands Manchester United is his club and also in this environment, this team, he is playing his best football.

"He is improving, he is giving 100 per cent.

"He can bring his qualities and this team can help him be in the right position to score goals. The team is constructed so that his qualities come to the fore.

"He knows he is important for us and if we want to succeed, we need him."

While Rashford is thriving on one side of United's attack, Antony – a big-money signing from Ajax last year – has struggled after a fast start to his career in England.

Ten Hag is not concerned, though.

"He is not losing games," the Dutchman said of the Brazil winger.

"He is playing and the team is winning and that already gives a message of how well he is performing.

"He can do better. I see space for improvement, and we want him to be more direct."

The dancing feet of Bukayo Saka, the coming of age of Eddie Nketiah, the groans from Manchester red and blue. If this is to be Arsenal's season, then this was a day they'll not forget in a hurry.

A 90th-minute winner from Nketiah, his second goal of the game, settled a modern classic in this great rivalry. Manchester United gave so much to the game, but Arsenal were outstanding and truly worthy winners. It was 3-2 in the end, and the roars of "Eddie, Eddie" were music to the ears of Nketiah and his manager, Mikel Arteta.

What spirit it was that carried the home players. Feeding off a crowd that believes in them, that senses a championship is incoming, the end of a 19-year wait, Arsenal never stopped driving forward, and finally United cracked.

With a 3-1 win at Old Trafford in September, United had already seen to it that this Arsenal cannot follow in the footsteps of the 2003-04 'Invincibles' and go unbeaten through the Premier League season.

But that remains the only defeat the Gunners have had through 19 games, while this was a fifth loss for United, for whom the title is probably now out of reach, their resurgence having hit a bump in the road.

This was the day when Cristiano Ronaldo made his Al Nassr debut, and we witnessed again how United are better off for being without him, Marcus Rashford hitting another exceptional goal for them. Yet United's newest central striker, loanee Wout Weghorst, was largely quiet, while Antony on the right flank flattered to deceive, and you did not need to look far for a stark contrast.

Nketiah, trusted now by Arteta as a frontman for the big occasion, prowled and hassled United's defence and got his rich reward, while Saka's twinkling toes had Luke Shaw in trouble all afternoon long. Saka hit the goal of the game, while Nketiah poached twice from point-blank range.

Saka became only the third Arsenal player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances against United, after Freddie Ljungberg and Thierry Henry, those Gunners greats of yore, heroes of Highbury.

They've not celebrated a Premier League title since moving to Emirates Stadium, and this particular race is only half-run, but 50 points from 19 games is some start, putting Arsenal five points clear of Manchester City, and they have a game in hand to boot.

Saka had begun to prowl with intent before the breakthrough came, and it went to United, with Rashford sidestepping Thomas Partey and driving a stunning 20-yard shot into the bottom-left corner.

That was a ninth Premier League goal of the season for Rashford, and he has nine in all competitions since returning from England's World Cup campaign, the most of any player from Europe's big five leagues.

United had not lost after scoring the opening goal in a Premier League game since October 16, 2021, when they went down 4-2 to Leicester City, so this boded well. Yet the 26-game unbeaten streak in such games would soon be in peril.

Nketiah got in front of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to head Arsenal level in the 24th minute, with Granit Xhaka's cross from the left giving the Swiss midfielder his fifth assist of the season.

Arteta, furious Shaw was not booked for a challenge on Saka as that battle heated up, later took a yellow card for his troubles.

Arsenal then roared ahead in the 53rd minute, and it was Saka at his majestic best, one-stepping with the ball at his feet on the right, teasing Christian Eriksen before letting fly with his left foot from 25 yards and fizzing the ball into the far bottom corner.

It was Saka's seventh Premier League goal of the season. He'll be going some to better it.

Up to this point, the watching Gareth Southgate would have been enjoying the contest, but England's manager would not have liked the sight of Aaron Ramsdale flapping at a corner soon after, giving Lisandro Martinez the chance to loop in the header that brought United level in the 59th minute.

"This is retro Man United-Arsenal," bellowed Gary Neville on Sky Sports.

Manchester City must have been loving the look of the 2-2 scoreline between their top-four rivals, with City's earlier 3-0 trouncing of Wolves closing the gap at the top, but Arsenal weren't finished. Saka went close, his strike flicking off Eriksen and clipping the outside of the right post.

Arsenal had 69.9 per cent of possession from the 60th to 75th minutes, staking out their prey but unable to make the kill.

They summoned Leandro Trossard in the 82nd minute, the new arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion entering the fray in place of Gabriel Martinelli.

Shaw was booked in the 83rd minute for getting close enough to Saka to stand on the winger's left foot, and from the free-kick Arsenal developed a glorious chance. The ball came through a thicket of players before reaching Nketiah, whose shot was brilliantly pushed wide by David de Gea.

Heads might have gone down in a previous season, but this time Arsenal kept pressing forward.

And then, in the 90th minute, came their reward. Zinchenko's cutback found Martin Odegaard, and with Fred for close company the captain bundled the ball on for Nketiah to toe in from four yards.

Alex Ferguson and David Beckham had taken their seats at Emirates Stadium in the hope of watching United's rejuvenation gather pace, but instead Arsenal put them in their place, clinching a sixth win in their last eight home league games against the Red Devils.

United are perhaps a season behind Arsenal in terms of emerging from years of gloom.

Erik ten Hag's team are not far away, but here they encountered something approaching a finished product. A north London derby win has been followed by victory over United, and it won't be easy street for Arsenal from here on, but once you clear those hurdles, why fear anything?

Which is one way of saying: it's Manchester City next, on Friday, in the FA Cup. Pass the popcorn.

It was one of the most memorable breakthroughs by a young player in top-flight European football over the past 15 year or so.

Marcus Rashford stepped into the Manchester United first-team as a skinny 18-year-old amid an injury crisis. After scoring twice against Midtjylland in the Europa League, he followed up with another brace on his Premier League debut three days later.

Arsenal were on the receiving end as Rashford's first-half double helped United to a 3-2 win at Old Trafford in February 2016.

It was an introduction that promised much, such was his prodigious ability and remarkable speed.

But as he prepares to face league leaders Arsenal again on Sunday, there's a feeling he's only now beginning to fully realise his potential.

Full circle

The 2021-22 season was an utter shambles for United. They failed to finish in the top four, setting a new club record for the fewest points in a single Premier League season.

In a failing team with so many issues, it was no wonder few players could excel. But the outlook for Rashford seemed particularly bleak.

He ended with only 13 league starts over the season, the fewest since 11 during his breakthrough campaign.

There had been a degree of optimism when he finally had surgery on a troublesome back injury. He'd not looked his usual dynamic self for a while, though it was hoped this operation would set him straight even if it meant missing the first two months of the season.

He scored on his return, a 4-2 defeat to Leicester City, and then got another two weeks later as United beat Tottenham 3-0, but this was something of a false dawn. By the end of the season he found himself regularly missing out in favour of Anthony Elanga, and he concluded the campaign with just four Premier League goals.

With upheaval in his personal life, the stress of his part in England's Euro 2020 failure and the subsequent reaction, it was a complicated time. It got to the point where he sought help from a psychologist after Euro 2020, such was his inner turmoil.

Pundits told him to leave, convinced Rashford and United couldn't rebuild each other – but, here we are in January 2023, with the England forward something of a poster boy for a seemingly promising new era at Old Trafford.

A fresh start

Only Rashford will know for certain what's changed the course of his United career, but there's little doubt something happened.

Whether it simply came down to being in a better mental state, as aided by off-field stability, or if it was something more deliberate, perhaps he'll open up one day.

But he took it upon himself to train at Nike's headquarters in Oregon last year before pre-season, and his comments while on United's tour of Thailand and Australia painted a picture of a man relishing a new era with Ten Hag.

"I think we can do a lot together," he said in July. "For me, it's a fresh start and something I am looking forward to. I'm in a good place right now and I'm just looking forward to getting more games under my belt.

"It's been a bit unnatural for me to have such a long break in the summer. This is my first year where I have been with the team from the beginning [of pre-season]. And, to be honest, I already feel a lot better than usual when you go on internationals and you come back midway through the pre-season."

Again, it's rarely possible to definitively prove from the outside what the decisive factors are behind such improvements in football, but the results speak for themselves.

His recent run of scoring in seven successive appearances (all competitions) was the best such run by a United player since Cristiano Ronaldo in April 2008.

New-found maturity

Being in Ten Hag's team most weeks won't have hurt Rashford's continuity, but he's still had to earn that role in the team – the Dutchman has already shown he's not afraid to drop players.

Overall, Rashford appears to be playing with greater maturity as he operates in more threatening areas and with improved efficiency.

His average of 5.6 involvements in open-play shot-ending sequences every 90 minutes is more than any of the previous three seasons – 2.2 of those situations are instances of him having the shot, which is also a high over that period.

So not only is Rashford relishing greater influence generally, he's also displaying more decisiveness in terms of opting to shoot, which stands to reason given his goals frequency (excluding penalties) of 0.47 per 90 minutes is the second best of his Premier League career.

Of course, a key component of Rashford's game ever since his breakthrough has been ball carrying. Even if he's not the best dribbler, his pace makes him a real threat when running with possession.

This season, he's carrying the ball less (8.5 carries per 90 minutes) often than any of the previous three campaigns, yet his record of 1.2 shot-ending carries per 90 is higher. It's another sign of maturity, with Rashford picking his moments better, but also confidence: his 20 shot-ending carries is already four times his tally from last season.

That also feeds into his general decision-making. He's actually averaging the fewest touches in the box of his top-flight career (5.5), but his total shots in the area (2.1) and attempts on target from the same range (1.2) have never been higher.

It's no surprise then that Rashford's expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes of 0.43 is the second-best of his Premier League career. This can be partly explained by his overall shot frequency (2.8) being slightly above his average (2.5), but it's also evidence of his shot selection improving and him finding better positions off the ball.

We shouldn't forget Rashford was also a standout for United in 2019-20 before a difficult couple of years. One difference now, however, is Ten Hag has already made United far more functional as a unit. They're a better team made up of better individuals.

Rashford made his breakthrough against Arsenal; more heroics against the Gunners might just be a sign of him and United taking a step towards another level.

Mikel Arteta credited Erik ten Hag for overseeing a rapid transformation in Manchester United's fortunes ahead of Arsenal's huge Premier League clash with the Red Devils on Sunday.

Arsenal hold a five-point lead at the Premier League summit ahead of facing United, who remain the only team to beat the Gunners in the competition this season, winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in September.

While United's hopes of entering the title race appear slim following Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace, the Red Devils are fancied to finish in the top four after going unbeaten in their past six Premier League games (W5 D1).

Having instigated a dramatic turnaround of his own at Emirates Stadium, Arteta has been impressed by Ten Hag's work at Old Trafford.

"It's very impressive. He's turned things around pretty quickly," Arteta said at Friday's pre-match press conference. 

"I think he has implemented a very clear way of playing. The players have bought into it and there's a really good energy around the place. 

"A lot of things have changed in a short period of time, so credit to him and the coaching staff for what they have done."

While United's in-form attacker Marcus Rashford has been involved in eight goals in his 10 Premier League starts against Arsenal, Arteta knows he will not be the only threat to his team on Sunday.

"It's not only him, unfortunately," Arteta said when asked how he would look to contain Rashford. "It's a lot of individuals and the collective organisation that they have. 

"We have to be very aware of that. I will try to do that. We prepare for games to try to hide the ways they have to create problems for us."

United were dealt a huge blow ahead of their trip to north London as midfield enforcer Casemiro received his fifth yellow card of the Premier League season at Palace, earning him a one-match ban.

However, Arteta noted the Brazil international did not start when United overcame Arsenal earlier in the season, adding: "It's something that we can't control. 

"He didn't play in our first game either and we still didn't do enough to win that match. When you look at the squad they have, it's incredible. 

"They have the individuals and collective organisation to beat any opponent in this league, but we'll plan the game knowing he's not available."

Meanwhile, Arsenal's bid for a first league title since the 2003-2004 season has seen skipper Martin Odegaard assume a central role, scoring a team-high eight Premier League goals.

Asked about Odegaard's development since he became captain last July, Arteta said: "He's done it in a very natural way. He's still a really young player with huge talent, but still with more desire than talent.

"He knows he can get much better and he's on that pathway, enjoying playing for us and contributing to the team in a really impactful way. He needs to continue to do that."

Marcus Rashford hit the winner and played a part – some might say – in Manchester United's first goal as the Red Devils beat City in Saturday's derby.

The in-form England international moved into early-career Cristiano Ronaldo territory by scoring in a seventh consecutive game for United, who have won nine in a row across all competitions.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Liverpool's campaign continued to unravel as they were battered 3-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion, and their neighbours Everton remain in deep relegation trouble after a home loss to fellow strugglers Southampton.

Another derby saw Nottingham Forest get the better of Leicester City, with Steve Cooper's team beginning to get a foothold in mid-table.

With the help of Opta data, Stats Perform examines key statistics from the Saturday's standout Premier League games.

Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City: Making his Marc again

Rashford has been a shining light for United since returning from the World Cup, scoring in all seven games for Erik ten Hag's team.

He is the first United player since Ronaldo in March-April 2008 to put together such a streak, while his run of goals in nine consecutive games at Old Trafford makes him the club's first player since Teddy Sheringham in September-November 2000 to enjoy that level of home form.

Bruno Fernandes got the equaliser, after an opener from City's Jack Grealish, with Rashford not flagged offside in the build-up after chasing the ball but not getting a touch prior to his Portuguese team-mate lashing past Ederson.

Rashford's close-range winner soon after, in the 82nd minute, was set up by Alejandro Garnacho, who at 18 years and 197 days became the youngest player to provide an assist in a Premier League Manchester derby.

City had just one shot on target, their joint-fewest in a Premier League match under Pep Guardiola.

Kevin De Bruyne set up Grealish's headed opener, reaching double figures in Premier League assists for a fifth season, with only Cesc Fabregas (6) doing so in more campaigns, but that was of no consolation as City saw their title hopes dented.

Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 Liverpool: Worth the wait for Seagulls

Jurgen Klopp's reaction summed it up, when he said: "I think everybody with a Brighton shirt on or a Brighton heart enjoyed the game a lot and I don't think anybody with a Liverpool heart enjoyed it for a second."

This was a horror show for the Reds, suffering their first league defeat at Brighton since January 1961 (3-1). Liverpool had gone 10 unbeaten away to the Seagulls in the league before Solly March's double and Danny Welbeck's sublime goal left them reeling.

Liverpool have suffered six defeats now in 18 games in the competition this term, three times as many losses as they incurred in the entire 2021-22 Premier League campaign. It was a fifth league loss away from Anfield, their worst season total since also losing five in 2017-18. This season is not yet at its halfway point for Liverpool, who sit ninth.

This game kicked off at 3pm locally. It was the first Saturday 3pm league game Liverpool have lost since going down 2-0 to Hull in February 2017, ending a 32-game undefeated streak in that slot.

March has four goals in his last four games, which is as many as he managed in his first 156 in the Premier League.

Everton 1-2 Southampton: Ward-Prowse piles on misery for Lampard

Sitting second-bottom now, Everton are having a dismal time of it under Frank Lampard's leadership, losing four league games in a row at home for the first time since a seven-game streak in 1958. They are winless in seven in the league, their worst run since an eight-game sequence under Rafael Benitez in October-December 2021.

Amadou Onana put the hosts ahead, becoming the fourth Belgian player to score for Everton in the Premier League, after Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.

But Saints captain James Ward-Prowse then took over, netting twice including the 16th direct free-kick goal of his Premier League career, putting him just two behind David Beckham's competition record.

It was his 12th such goal in away games, more than any player has managed in the Premier League, and only Matt Le Tissier (44) has managed more away goals in the Premier League era for Southampton than Ward-Prowse's haul of 28.

Nottingham Forest 2-0 Leicester City: Johnson's derby delight

Brennan Johnson hit both goals in the East Midlands showdown, doubling his Premier League tally for the season and becoming the second-youngest Forest player to score twice in a Premier League game (21y 236d). Roy Keane, who struck a double against Leeds in December 1992 (21y 117d), remains the youngest.

Morgan Gibbs-White, at 22 years and 352 days, became the youngest to have two assists in a Premier League game for Forest.

Leicester are free-falling, with this a fourth consecutive league defeat. Remarkably, it is not yet their worst run of the campaign, having lost six in a row in August and September.

They have yet to win a point this season from a losing position, the only Premier League team to fail on that count.

Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji described the decision to not disallow Manchester United's first goal in Saturday's derby as a "joke".

Jack Grealish had seemingly set City en route to three points with his second-half opener, but Bruno Fernandes levelled in contentious fashion before Marcus Rashford clinched a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.

City were furious with United's leveller because Rashford, who was offside, approached the ball but allowed Fernandes to take the shot.

The flag was initially raised to signal offside against Rashford, but referee Stuart Attwell overturned the decision having spoken to his assistant Darren Cann.

The fact Rashford opted against touching the ball and that he technically did not impede Akanji meant the England forward was not deemed to be interfering with play, therefore the goal counted.

Attwell's decision caused a stir on social media, with former professionals among those questioning the outcome, and Akanji is adamant it was the incorrect call.

"For me, the first goal is a joke that it's going to be allowed like this," he told the BBC.

"In that situation, I see Rashford is clearly offside, so I play him offside. He runs really to the last second and he stops when the ball is in front of him.

"He's right in front of Edi [Ederson] to score the goal and then he stops because Bruno is calling him from behind that he [Fernandes] is not in an offside position.

"I understand that he doesn't touch the ball, but he runs for like 30 metres, he's chasing the ball and then he stops. For me, it's clearly offside."

Defeat for City leaves them just a point above United and gives Arsenal the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to eight points if they beat Tottenham in Sunday's north London derby.

Bruno Fernandes feels Manchester United are a "proper team" again following their dramatic 2-1 win against Manchester City at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international struck the equaliser to cancel out Jack Grealish's opener before Marcus Rashford hit the winner four minutes later to put United just a point behind City in the Premier League standings.

United's win maintains a superb record since August 22, when victory over Liverpool gave them their first win of the season. They have amassed 38 points since, with no other team in the top-flight having picked up more in that spell.

Ten Hag's side have also tallied seven consecutive victories across all competitions since returning from the mid-season break, which Fernandes thinks has been helped by their improving unity.

"I said before the game we look like a team now. Some time ago, sometimes each one of us was looking for ourselves. Now you see a proper team playing for each other," he told BT Sport.

Fernandes is not getting carried away about the proximity to City, however, pointing out it will mean little if United's momentum drops.

"[Being a point behind City] doesn't matter for us," he added. "We have to look forward to the next game.

"If you don't keep winning, they'll go [City will move ahead]. We'll celebrate a big win but from [Sunday] our focus has to be on the next game."

United's second-half response was aided by the introduction of Alejandro Garnacho, who assisted Rashford's winner, and the England forward praised the work of his attacking colleagues.

"The options we've got coming off the bench, we've had injuries this year with our forward line, and everyone has played out of position. Bruno played out of position today," he said.

"You can see everyone is putting a shift in. When you have players like Alejandro, young, hungry, willing to come on and make a difference, anything is possible."

United are next in action at struggling Crystal Palace on Wednesday, before a trip to league leaders Arsenal.

It was almost exactly a year to the day since Marcus Rashford was substituted in an FA Cup win over Aston Villa and subsequently took his place on the bench wearing the look of a player who seemed completely bereft.

His body language, the apparent disappearance of his smile, his general form. Everything about Rashford was scrutinised to the nth degree. A few months earlier he reportedly sought the help of a sports psychologist in an attempt to move on from his part in England's Euro 2020 failure.

In simple terms, a player who once looked able to go as far as he pleased in the game was beginning to look a lost cause at Old Trafford.

Fast forward to January 14, 2023, Rashford is now the poster boy of a new era at the Theatre of Dreams, and his late winner in the Manchester derby shows both he and United are finally emerging from a nightmare.

Of course, Erik ten Hag has clearly played a role in both resurgences.

You could forgive him approaching the game with a sense of trepidation given what happened in October, as City obliterated them in a 6-3 win at the Etihad Stadium.

That was a reality check after a run of four league wins, and a defeat that led to Ten Hag essentially thanking City for showing the Red Devils how much more work they needed to do.

Since then, and before Saturday's game, only Newcastle United (24) had won more Premier League points than the Reds. Clearly, the improvement has swift and significant.

There was no avalanche of first-half goals from City this time. By the break in October, City were 4-0 up, with Phil Foden and Erling Haaland getting a brace each – the Norwegian enjoying a brutal introduction to the derby.

At the interval here, United had been the better side, creating the two best (only?) chances of the first half and restricting City to just one attempt, which was blocked anyway.

Luke Shaw's selection at centre-back looked curious, though he was once again impressive even against Haaland, and Fred's tenacity in midfield helped to reduce the influence of Kevin De Bruyne.

United found joy down the inside-left channel with Rashford, who first forced Manuel Akanji into a goal-line clearance after skipping past the stranded Ederson. The England forward then burst beyond Rodri but saw his point-blank effort smothered by the goalkeeper.

The hosts were, generally, comfortable.

Anthony Martial didn't look sharp as he drew the frustration from the crowd on a couple of occasions, including for his seeming reluctance to press Ederson when receiving an awkward pass – that doesn't bode particularly well for the Frenchman following the arrival of a so-called "pressing monster" in Wout Weghorst.

Rashford then pulled up with a knock to his hip just before half-time. Although he continued, United were clearly lacking something in attack as he appeared to hold back and Martial was withdrawn, presumably owing to his own fitness issues.

City stepped things up. Their trademark ball domination returned and United struggled to get out of their defensive third.

The out-ball to Rashford wasn't on anymore, and caution appeared to be the new focus of United and Ten Hag.

That had to go out the window with Jack Grealish's headed opener, however. City turned the screw and it finally brought the breakthrough as De Bruyne managed to break free of his Fred- and Casemiro-shaped shackles to deliver the perfect chipped cross.

From there, most would've just assumed City would go on to take the three points, aiding their quest to chase down Arsenal – but this United are made of sterner stuff.

The introduction of Alejandro Garnacho for Christian Eriksen was key as United suddenly had greater presence in the forward line, occupying the City defence.

And Rashford, who barely had a kick after the break, came back to life. The awareness to leave the ball for Bruno Fernandes when offside was exceptional, and it allowed the Portugal midfielder to coolly slot home from just outside the box.

Then Rashford's moment arrived.

Garnacho twisted and turned on the left, making just enough space to squeeze a low cross past Nathan Ake, and Rashford was there to prod through Ederson's legs.

It made him the first United player since Cristiano Ronaldo in April 2008 to score in seven successive appearances, and it was the 27th winning goal of his Premier League career.

For many, that winner, this win, the mentality to turn things around in the derby against the champions will validate United as genuine title contenders.

The fact Rashford is the player spearheading their revival makes his a truly engrossing redemption tale.

Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scored in quick succession as Manchester United came from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1 in a dramatic derby at Old Trafford.

Just four minutes separated the two efforts from Erik ten Hag's side as first Fernandes levelled the scores with a controversial goal to cancel out Jack Grealish's opener.

There were no arguments about United's winner, however, with Rashford prodding home at close range after Alejandro Garnacho's pass across goal.

The win puts United just a point behind their arch-rivals, while handing Arsenal the opportunity to move eight clear with a victory over Tottenham on Sunday. 

In-form United had the first opportunity after capitalising on a loose Bernardo Silva pass, Christian Eriksen feeding a pass through to Fernandes who dragged an effort wide of the target.

City started poorly with sloppy passes throughout the opening half hour, providing encouragement to the home fans, though United could not profit.

Rashford came closest as he was first denied by Manuel Akanji after rounding Ederson, with the Brazilian goalkeeper then diving at the England star's feet after Eriksen had sent him through on goal.

Pep Guardiola shuffled his deck 11 minutes into the second half, replacing Phil Foden with Grealish, who took just three minutes to make an impact, heading home Kevin de Bruyne's chipped cross at the far post.

United equalised in contentious fashion, Fernandes curling home past Ederson as Rashford, who was in an offside position, ran onto the pass but did not touch the ball, with the initial offside decision being overruled by VAR. 

And there was more drama soon after when Rashford diverted Garnacho's low cross in to put United within touching distance of City in the Premier League standings after a ninth consecutive win in all competitions. 

Manchester City will attempt to celebrate a landmark game for Pep Guardiola by securing a fourth consecutive win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The eagerly awaited derby will be Guardiola's 500th match as a top-flight manager in an incredible trophy-laden career.

Of more importance for the City boss will be claiming a victory that would leave the champions only two points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, who face a derby of their own at Tottenham on Sunday.

The Red Devils were hammered 6-3 when the two sides met at the Etihad Stadium in October, with Guardiola's men having done the double over their fierce rivals last season.

Fourth-placed United are flying under Erik ten Hag, though, and a win over City – who suffered a shock EFL Cup defeat to Southampton on Wednesday – would leave them only a point behind their neighbours.

Stats Perform has used Opta data to preview a huge derby showdown.

Another huge milestone for Pep

Guardiola has long since established himself as one of the best managers in the world, achieving great success with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.

He took charge of 152 LaLiga games during his Barca tenure, 102 in the Bundesliga with dominant Bayern and this will be his 246th Premier League match as City boss.

Guardiola has won 379 of the 499 top-flight encounters he has overseen, suffered 52 defeats and drawn 68 games. 

With a win percentage rate of 76, he has the most victories and highest win rate - for managers who have taken charge of at least 100 games - of any boss in Europe's big-five leagues since his first top-flight season in 2008-09.

United on a roll

Ten Hag has lifted the gloom and there is more of an air of optimism at Old Trafford, with United having won eight consecutive games in all competitions.

Since and including their win over Liverpool on August 22, no team has earned more Premier League points than United's tally of 35, winning 11 of their 15 games during that time.

The Red Devils have won all three Premier League games since the World Cup without conceding a goal and reached the EFL Cup semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Charlton Athletic on Tuesday.

City to add insult to injury by breaking scoring record?

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat-tricks as City put United to the sword just over three months ago.

Guardiola's men could break their record for the number of goals scored against United in a season, which stands at eight established by 5-0 and 3-2 victories way back in the 1954-55 campaign.

The most goals the Red Devils have conceded against an opponent in a Premier League season is nine against Liverpool in 2021-22.

Rashford can do no wrong

Marcus Rashford can do no wrong at the minute, scoring in every game since the World Cup.

He came off the bench to help himself to a late double in the win over Charlton, making it seven goals in six matches since returning from England duty in Qatar.

Rashford, who found the back of the net twice for the Three Lions in the World Cup, has scored 15 times this season for United – who are certainly not missing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Erik ten Hag set his sights on ending Manchester United's six-year trophy drought after Marcus Rashford's double helped them past Charlton Athletic in Tuesday's EFL Cup quarter-final.

Having replaced Antony – who had given United the lead with a brilliant curling effort – on the hour mark at Old Trafford, Rashford scored twice in the dying moments to seal a 3-0 win over the League One side.

Rashford's brace ensured safe passage to the final four for United, who have not won a major trophy since Jose Mourinho delivered an EFL Cup and Europa League double in 2017. 

Ten Hag's hopes of ending that wait have been boosted by back-to-back home wins in the two domestic cups, and the Dutchman is eager for United to go further.

"The last four is nothing. It's only about winning," Ten Hag told Sky Sports. "But you have to go from game to game. We'll see what comes out of the draw, then we'll prepare well."

United missed several chances to wrap up victory before Rashford took centre-stage, leaving Ten Hag somewhat frustrated by their wastefulness.

"I'm quite happy. We started the game very well with good energy and good focus, and pinned them in their half," he said.

"We created chances, big opportunities, and then we made a brilliant goal. It's a team goal, but the finish from Antony was great.

"They put on another striker but I think we didn't allow them [chances]. Before, we had the chances. We should have finished this game early on."

United have won each of their six matches since the World Cup, with Rashford netting in every game (a total of seven goals).

Rashford's tally of 20 goal contributions this campaign (15 goals, five assists) is now double that of his closest team-mate (Christian Eriksen with 10), leading United captain Harry Maguire to lavish praise on the forward.  

"I probably haven't seen him in better goalscoring form, but I know what he's capable of. I've seen him here for four years now, and for England before that," Maguire told MUTV.

"I can't speak highly enough of his talent, and it's really good to see him playing with a smile on his face. 

"He's a really important player for us and if we're going to do well this season, we need him firing. I'm really pleased he's doing that for the side and for himself."

Marcus Rashford maintained his record of scoring in every game since the World Cup with a late double as Manchester United beat Charlton Athletic 3-0 to reach the EFL Cup semi-finals.

Substitute Rashford produced two fine finishes to round off United's victory, after Antony's stunning strike broke League One side Charlton's resistance in the first half at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Charlton – the only non-Premier League team in the last eight – produced a stubborn performance to stay in the contest until the closing stages, but lacked the quality to trouble their illustrious opponents.

Erik ten Hag's men are now potentially three games from ending a six-year trophy drought after reaching their third EFL Cup semi-final in four seasons.

Alejandro Garnacho was heavily involved as a much-changed United team started well, teeing up Diogo Dalot for a wild left-footed strike before going close from long range.

It was Antony who opened the scoring 21 minutes in, curling a sublime left-footed strike beyond a diving Ashley Maynard-Brewer and into the top-left corner.

Fred almost doubled United's lead in spectacular fashion when his 25-yard free-kick rattled the inside of the post, ensuring Charlton were just one goal down at the break.

Anthony Elanga was denied by the offside flag when he converted from close range after the restart, before Maynard-Brewer kept Charlton in the game with a fine stop from Garnacho's bending right-footed attempt.

United finally made the victory safe as the game entered stoppage time, the in-form Rashford beating Maynard-Brewer with a chipped finish after taking Facundo Pellistri's pass in his stride. 

There was still time for the England forward to find the back of the net again, rounding the goalkeeper before hammering a left-footed finish high into the net.


Erik ten Hag was convinced Marcus Rashford would react the right way to his manager's risky decision to bench him following his late arrival to a meeting.

Rashford was left out of Ten Hag's starting line-up for Manchester United's away match with Wolves on December 31 for disciplinary reasons, with it later revealed Rashford had overslept and turned up late to a team meeting.

Ten Hag brought on Rashford with the game goalless at Molineux at half-time, to great effect too as the forward netted the winner.

Rashford then went on to score in the following two games, a 3-0 Premier League victory over Bournemouth and a 3-1 FA Cup success against Everton.

Ten Hag believes dropping Rashford was necessary to set the standard he wants, though he added he was confident the 25-year-old would react in the positive way he has done.

"Maybe it's a risk," Ten Hag told reporters. "But if you want to develop something, if you want to create a winning attitude or winning culture, you have to go this way, in my opinion.

"If you allow them to be undisciplined, if they don't match the standards, and values and rules we set together as a team, that the staff place in the dressing room, then it will come back.

"That will blow up in your face on the pitch, because then also on the pitch, they will not act with discipline, what is necessary to win games, it's about top football. So it's about big responsibilities.

"If it's the right human beings who have the right characters, they will react like this. And so, in relation to Marcus, I was quite convinced."

Rashford's goal against Everton on Friday means he has now scored in five straight games, while he became the first United player to net in seven straight home matches in all competitions since Wayne Rooney in 2012.

Despite Rashford's impressive goalscoring run, United are in the market for another striker, with Anthony Martial in and out of the team with injuries so far this season.

"There is a reason, because he [Martial] can't match in this moment the load for many games," Ten Hag added. "That's why we are looking for another striker.

"It is not about that we don't rely on him [Rashford], but it is a physical load that is not in this moment so high that he can't play every third game of every third day, a game of 90 minutes. I have to manage that together with him." 

Although he has been open about United's search for another striker in the January transfer window, Ten Hag is confident in his existing players' ability to put the ball in the net, saying: "Today, Antony scored a goal and we know, Bruno Fernandes is also very capable of scoring a goal.

"Christian Eriksen will create and is capable of scoring. So we have more players who can score goals."

The victory over Everton was United's seventh in a row in all competitions, but Ten Hag is keeping a watchful eye over his players to ensure they do not let complacency creep in.

"You have to be watchful for this," Ten Hag stated. "We have to keep this focus and this concentration we have to work well.

"When we go to games, we have to start with the right attitude. When you don't, the level of the Premier League is that high, you get hammered."

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