A razor-thin 1-0 victory over Brentford was secured by Marcus Rashford’s 28th goal of the year, moving Manchester United back into the top four in the battle for Champions League qualification.
The triumph was United’s first in the Premier League since a 3-1 victory over Leicester City at Old Trafford in February. It also served as payback for their 4-0 defeat at Brentford in August. United increased its lead over Tottenham Hotspur, who are currently in fifth place, to three points before their road match against Tottenham on April 27.
The fact that Rashford broke the team’s 326-minute Premier League goal slump to secure a vital victory against Brentford says a lot about the difficult road that Manchester United must travel in order to earn a spot in the Champions League. Despite appearing to be at ease in their pursuit of a top-four finish, United has not been playing well lately. A run of three games without a goal, which included losses at Liverpool and Newcastle United, has forced them back into a tight race for a Champions League spot.
The triumph put them three points ahead of Tottenham in fifth place with one game remaining, but even though United won, it took work from beginning to end to get the job done. They needed to defeat Brentford to reclaim charge of their goals. Even though United is losing momentum at the worst possible time in the season, there are still two months left to play and three competitions—the Premier League, Europa League, and FA Cup—that they can still participate in.
Erik ten Hag, the boss, must find a means to carry his side through until Casemiro and Christian Eriksen, two of the game’s most important midfielders, return from injury or suspension. Jadon Sancho, Antony, and Scott McTominay are all attempting to regain their best form, and Wout Weghorst, who joined the team on loan in January, was benched for the first time in 19 matches due to a protracted period of ineffectiveness, leaving Ten Hag with a group that is both worn out and wanting in confidence.
However, Rashford once again saved them, and they beat Brentford to get the victory.
The English forward increased his season total of goals scored to 28. With one more goal, he will surpass Bruno Fernandes and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the player with the most goals scored for the team in a season since Sir Alex Ferguson departed ten years ago.
The Rashford goal encapsulated the strategy needed to get United back into the Champions League: triumph at home and depend on Rashford to produce the goals. The only time this season the Red Devils have defeated any of the top 10 away from Old Trafford was the 1-0 success at Fulham in November. Since that victory, the Red Devils have not won a league game without Rashford netting.
Man United’s resurgence may be sparked by this victory, but with worn-out players and staff, it will really take all of Ten Hag’s managerial prowess to steer his side into the top four. Even so, United can at least take comfort in the fact that no one is pursuing them because the teams in front of them are all suffering with form and regularity.