Marcus Rashford marked his return from World Cup duty with a brilliant solo goal as Manchester United advanced into the quarter-finals of the League Cup on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Burnley while Premier League rivals Brighton were knocked out by third-tier Charlton.
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United’s first game since the World Cup was also their first since Cristiano Ronaldo’s dramatic departure from Old Trafford and an announcement by owners the Glazer family that they were prepared to sell the football giants.
The Red Devils went ahead in the 27th minute through a close-range finish from Denmark’s Christian Eriksen, who also featured at Qatar 2022.
Rashford, who scored three goals for England at the World Cup, doubled United’s lead against second-tier Championship leaders Burnley, managed by former Manchester City star Vincent Kompany, just before the hour mark in superb style.
The England forward went on a run from inside his own half and into the visitors’ box before drilling a shot low into the net.
“There is space in front of you and you’re almost waiting for the right time to get a pass off but the gap opened and thankfully it went in,” Rashford told Sky Sports.
– ‘No time to feel sorry’ –
This was Rashford’s first match since England’s agonising World Cup quarter-final loss to France, with the forward saying: “It was such a disappointing feeling to be knocked out and you have to pick yourselves up.
“There is no time to feel sorry for yourself. You need to pick up results and thankfully we did that today.”
United manager Erik ten Hag added: “There is still room for improvement but I am pleased with the win.
“The players are hungry after the World Cup break.”
Burnley boss Kompany was proud of his side’s performance, saying: “We didn’t roll over, we were aggressive, we were on front foot, we created some chances.”
Brighton bowed out on spot-kicks three days after their Argentina star Alexis Mac Allister won the World Cup with Argentina in a penalty shoot-out.
Mac Allister was not involved on Wednesday after being given time off following his World Cup heroics and was thus spared any involvement away to southeast London side Charlton.
A goalless draw saw the game go to penalties, with an extraordinary shoot-out starting with Pascal Gross, Jayden Stockley and Leandro Trossard all hitting the woodwork.
Brighton keeper Jason Steele saved from George Dobson and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi.
That left Solly March with the chance to win the game but the Seagulls star shot high over the crossbar.
Addicks goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer then saved Moises Caicedo’s penalty, with Sam Lavelle scoring the decisive goal at The Valley as League One Charlton booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 4-3 shoot-out win.
“I’m sorry for the result and sorry for our fans, we wanted to win the game and play in the quarter-finals,” said Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi.
“We had opportunities to score. And in penalties you can lose.”
Charlton interim boss Anthony Hayes, in charge of his last match before Dean Holden, the club’s fifth manager in less than two years, takes over, said: “It was a special night. It gives everyone a lift.”
Nottingham Forest, four-time winners of the League Cup, had no such problems against lower league opposition, the top-flight strugglers defeating Championship high-flyers Blackburn Rovers 4-1.
Forest went ahead at Ewood Park through Brennan Johnson’s 13th-minute penalty before Scott Wharton made amends for conceding the spot-kick by equalising on the stroke of half-time.
But further goals from Jesse Lingard, Taiwo Awoniyi and Johnson again took Forest into the quarter-finals for the first time since 1994.