Marcus Rashford’s eye-catching performance in England’s 3-0 win against Wales shows he “belongs” on the World Cup stage, according to Manchester United and international teammate Harry Maguire.
The 25-year-old forward played a starring role as Gareth Southgate’s men wrapped up their Group B campaign in style on Tuesday to progress to the last 16, where they will play Senegal.
Rashford opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick and was instrumental in the second goal, scored by Phil Foden, before delivering the knockout blow in the 68th minute after a rampaging run down the right.
Defender Maguire said he was delighted to see his clubmate back in top form after a tough year in which he slipped out of the international picture due to fitness issues and a loss of form.
“I’m really pleased for Marcus,” said Maguire.
“Over the last year or so obviously he’s been out of the England team and England set-up. I think he’s really found his form again this season for Manchester United. He’s a massive player for our club.”
Rashford had not kicked a ball for England since missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout against Italy last year when he arrived in Qatar.
He endured a difficult season for United following the defeat at Wembley, making just 13 Premier League starts in 2021/22 and scoring just four times in the top flight.
But he forced his way back into Gareth Southgate’s squad after impressing for United this season.
And Rashford has made up for lost time in Qatar, scoring a goal as a substitute in England’s opening 6-2 win against Iran before his two strikes on Tuesday.
Confidence rebuilt –
“Throughout a long career you’re always going to have ups and you’re always going to have downs and it’s all about how you bounce back from when you’re out of form and keep working hard and he’s done that tirelessly,” said Maguire.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Marcus. He’s a wonderful man and he’s a great player. I think tonight again he’s shown that he belongs on this stage.”
Maguire, who is struggling to command a first-team spot at Old Trafford, said he had tried to help Rashford rebuild his confidence.
“I speak to Marcus a lot,” said the United club captain. “I try to give him as much belief as I can. Marcus is a fantastic player who has had a great career up until now.
“I think the last year or so has been difficult for him. All good players rise to the top again and I think if he keeps his head down, he keeps working hard, first and foremost for his club, he’ll get opportunities for his country.
“When he gets that opportunity, with the confidence that he has, he’s a threat to anyone.”
Luke Shaw, who is also a teammate of Rashford’s at United, praised his man-of-the-match performance against Wales.
“The talent he’s got, he can be unplayable and I think tonight he showed that,” said the left-back.
“He needs to deliver that every single game he plays because he’s got the quality that can make the difference. He’s an unbelievable player.”
“He took his chance tonight,” he added. “It was his time to start.”
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