Video - Van Gaal hails Rashford as Man Utd win in Europa League
If Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal silences his critics and emerges victorious at the end of this season, 18-year-old Marcus Rashford will be one of the first names on his thank you list.
Called into the United side as a last minute replacement after Anthony Martial picked up a hamstring injury in the warm up for the game against FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford, Rashford turned in a stunning display as United came from behind to secure a route to the last-16 of the Europa League.
The Danish champions led 2-1 from the first leg and when Pione Sisto increased their advantage with the first goal in the second leg, it seemed as if Van Gaal's season from hell was about to hit a new low.
Nikolay Bodurov's own goal reduced the deficit before Rashford (above) scored two fine goal to bring United back into contention, before Ander Herrera's penalty and a late clincher from the hugely impressive Memphis Depay sealed the win.
On a night when Van Gaal knew he dare not fail again, this was a massive victory and even if the opposition was not of the highest calibre, the United boss appreciated the importance of the victory.
"It was a great performance. The fans will have enjoyed our attacking football," Van Gaal told BT Sport, on a night when his side could afford to miss a first half Juan Mata penalty.
"Midjtylland had only crossed the halfway line once and they scored. Normally you get a decline in confidence, but we continued our game.
“I didn’t have another option [other than to play Rashford], so it was easy, he was there on the bench because he was the natural substitute of Martial, I’m not putting other players in.
"When Borthwick-Jackson is out of the match I put Joe Riley in because he is playing left full-back in the second team.
“I saw him playing against Norwich, 8-0 and he was the best man on the pitch, and that’s why I’m looking to those matches.
"I am always confident, the first match they play, that is not any problem, it is the second or third that gives problems and that is why it is a fantastic step for them in the learning process.”