Marcus Rashford ensured that Manchester United put one foot in the Europa League Final by stepping up and delivering a moment of quality away to Celta Vigo on Thursday night.
The goal, that was beginning to look like it wasn't going to come, was a moment of brilliance from Marcus Rashford who whipped in a dipping free-kick over the goalkeeper's head, and while that may have been a surprise for some, to see a 19-year-old command set-pieces with the likes of Paul Pogba on the pitch, it was no surprise to those who have seen him day in, day out, in training.
Rashford had a pop late-on against West Brom back in April, which was the first time the fans saw that he was capable as he very nearly scored a sensational goal that would have won the game, but it turns out that Rashford has had that in the locker for some time now.
Speaking to fanzine United We Stand in May 2016 [via FourFourTwo.com], as Rashford was really making a name for himself seemingly out of the blue, Paul Scholes told us that we had not yet seen Rashford's ability from free-kicks and likened them to Cristiano Ronaldo's technique.
Rashford is no surprise to me at all. I've seen him play since he was 14 or 15 and then in Paul McGuiness’s [former United under-18s coach] side.
He's quick and he's good outside the box and he can smash a ball too.
You've not seen any yet, but he hits free kicks in a dipping fashion, almost the way Cristiano Ronaldo does.
Almost a year later, and now we know:
Speaking after the match, Jose Mourinho revealed that Rashford has been staying behind after training to practice on his technique and took responsibility for the effort in Vigo because it suited him better than Paul Pogba.
Marcus Rashford is a 19-year-old kid who is in love with football. He stays after training for half-an-hour to practice taking free-kicks and waits for the opportunity.
He trains a lot, he practices, he enjoys the extra work.
Zlatan is not here, that position is not Paul's favourite position, so he took it.
It's a great fee-kick because the ball moves really really fast, the goalkeeper makes a little movement, and I think with the speed of the ball it's impossible to save.
He's already a frightening prospect without the dangerous free-kicks, but it just goes to show how badly he wants it that he's putting in the extra effort, when all we hear about players of a similar age seems to be their inability to work hard, with a few obvious exceptions.