Manchester United will be without Marcus Rashford for the first leg of their Europa League round-of-16 tie against Milan at Old Trafford.

Rashford limped off during the second half of Sunday's 2-0 derby victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City having suffered an ankle injury.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not counting on the England forward for Thursday's showdown and believes he remains a doubt for the weekend visit of West Ham.

"I don't think he will be available," said Solskjaer. "He didn't join in training today.

"I think he is out of [the Milan game] and still a doubt for the weekend."

Rashford has 18 goals in all competitions this season, while his 10 assists are already the most he has managed in a campaign for United.

Although it ultimately had unfortunate consequences, Solskjaer felt the sight of the 23-year-old sprinting back to dispossess City winger Riyad Mahrez when incurring the injury demonstrated his overall value to the Red Devils' cause.

"That 60- or 70-yard recovery run showed the hunger, appetite, desire and humility in the team, so it was worth it, but you never like to lose players to injury," he said.

Edinson Cavani is also a doubt, having sat out the Manchester derby.

Quotes from the Uruguay striker's father emerged this week, suggesting he has decided he does not want to stay at Old Trafford beyond the end of this season and has his heart set on a move to Argentinian giants Boca Juniors.

But Solskjaer was not keen on being dragged into the debate.

"I can't comment on what has been said. I can only say that we are very pleased with Edinson when he is here. Day in and day out," Solskjaer said.

"He is proving his personality, his professionalism. He is really helping the young kids - as we wanted him to.

"He will make his decision. He knows we are very fond of what he has given to the club even if he has played less than he wanted to."

Milan arrive in Manchester with a depleted squad, without the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez through injury.

It looks like Solskjaer will have to contend with similar selection headaches, after revealing Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw are nursing knocks after their starring roles in the derby victory.

Midfielders Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba remain sidelined by muscular complaints, while David de Gea is absent once more having returned to Spain for the birth of his child. Dean Henderson is set to continue in goal.

Matthijs de Ligt was linked with Manchester United before his move to Juventus in 2019.

United have reportedly renewed their interest in the 21-year-old Dutch defender.

Could he end up in Manchester?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT DE LIGT

Manchester United are set to target Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, according to TodoFichajes.

United were heavily linked with De Ligt before the Netherlands international swapped Ajax for Serie A champions Juve in 2019.

With United reportedly not advancing in their pursuit of Real Madrid pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, the Red Devils are eyeing De Ligt.

United have also been linked with RB Leipzig's Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla defender Jules Kounde and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Paris Saint-Germain are poised to offer David Alaba a €25million-per year deal in an attempt to prise the Bayern Munich star to the French capital. Out of contract at season's end, Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid. Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City have also been linked.

United have been left alone in the fight to sign Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims TodoFichajes. Unwilling to match Villa's valuation, City have reportedly exited the race for Grealish. The report also says United could sell Marcus Rashford to fund the move.

- Madrid stars Lucas Vazquez and Isco are wanted by Everton, according to Calciomercato. After prising James Rodriguez from the LaLiga champions, Everton are targeting another two players from the Spanish capital, though Milan and Juve are also keen.

- Diario AS reports Madrid are prioritising a move for in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. Chelsea, United, City, Juve, PSG, Barca and Bayern have all been linked but Madrid are reportedly shifting their attention from Kylian Mbappe to Haaland.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Luke Shaw, labelling the full-back "absolutely incredible" after his performance in the derby win over Manchester City.

Shaw scored as United upstaged runaway Premier League leaders City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty after just 101 seconds before Shaw doubled the lead five minutes into the second half away to City, who had their 21-match winning streak snapped and a run of 28 games unbeaten across all competitions.

Solskjaer hailed Shaw – who joined from Southampton in 2014 – following his impressive display as the England international continues to impress at Old Trafford after his rocky start to life in Manchester.

"Absolutely incredible," Solskjaer said of Shaw. "He was a massive doubt until after the warm-up. He needed to do the warm-up to be cleared to play. So Alex [Telles] was ready but Luke's performance [was] top.

"He's aggressive, he's hard to play one against one. When he goes forward on those on runs he's unstoppable.

"He's just improved so much and he's improving all the time and delighted for him."

United have won three consecutive away games in all competitions against City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

The Red Devils are also 22 matches unbeaten away from home in the Premier League, though they remain 11 points adrift of City atop the table.

United star Marcus Rashford limped off with 17 minutes remaining against City and he is set to undergo a scan on his ankle.

Rashford's assist for United's second goal was his 10th across all competitions this season – the first time he has reached double figures for assists in a single season in his club career.

"It's something with his ankle. When he sprinted back about 60-70 yards to save a goal. Just shows the attitude of the boy, and his pace and how he sacrificed himself," said Solskjaer, who became the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away games against City.

"I think, maybe he went over on his ankle or something, but we need to do a scan. I've not had time to sit down and speak to the doctor yet."

Despite United's success against Pep Guardiola's side, Solskjaer is refusing to look beyond Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg against Milan.

"All we have to think about is Thursday," he added. "Every game, one game at a time and see where we're at. We want to improve. I want the player to improve. We want to learn from this experience. We want to learn from Wednesday's experience against [Crystal] Palace. We need to improve on so many things to get our consistency better.

"Of course, they're 11 points ahead of us if I'm not wrong, with 10 games to go, so that's a long, long way. So we need to focus on ourselves and just be a better Man United and I feel we're a better Man United now than we were 12, 13, 16 months ago."

Nani thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is right to keep moving Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial around the Manchester United forward line.

Rashford and Martial - along with Mason Greenwood - led United's attack to huge success towards the end of last season.

Veteran Edinson Cavani has entered the fold this year amid debate over which of United's younger forwards will become the next number nine.

Nani, who was a Champions League winner with United, thinks the modern player can move positions regularly much more easily, even if it is not always ideal.

He thinks Solskjaer is following the methods of Alex Ferguson in selecting teams with the weaknesses of United's opponents in mind.

Nani told Stats Perform News: "We saw so many games they played together and they were successful, so yeah [Martial and Rashford can play in the same team].

"Sometimes when you change positions, game to game it can cause a little bit of impact from your game. 

"But yet this is something you have to train and prepare on every week with a coach and you have to be able to understand the game.

"You have to know what the purpose of the session was and what the manager wants for that game. 

"I think now the capacity of the players, the new generation, they are able to play in different positions at the front. 

"So Rashford can shoot with the left, with the right - he has skills, there is no problem for him to play in different positions. 

"I think that the manager is doing great because he's reading the next game. 

"So there are some games you can better use Martial central, and some you can use him better on the left wing and that's what I've been seeing the coach doing. 


"And it's true when I used to play for Man United, Alex Ferguson was reading the opponent. 

"So who is going to play on the right side? Who is better to challenge him is he slow? Do we need a player with more speed or more strength? It depends on what the game needs."

United have drawn three consecutive games 0-0 for the first time since October 2015.

While he is impressed with Rashford in general this season, Nani has highlighted an area for potential improvement that could get United out of their slump.

"Age gives you more experience, the more you see, you learn more with the more games you get," added Nani when he was asked about Rashford.

"But we know what he is capable of - he has energy, he has skills, he has goals [but] sometimes he just [needs] the desire to want to be more involved in the game.

"[He needs to] want the ball more, want to run more will his all, lose more energy in the game, instead of saving himself to the end because trying to save the energy to end up the game, sometimes you lose opportunity to make your goal or your assist when the result is already done.

"So I think he can use his strength more during the game, it will make much more difference to his game."

Martial, meanwhile, has struggled to follow up his strong 2019-20 season, when he racked up a career-high 17 Premier League goals.

The France international, who is facing a race against time to be fit in time to face Manchester City in Sunday's derby, has four goals and three assists from 21 league appearances this time around.

Nani feels a return to form is needed quickly, adding: "You know Martial has shown already he has so much potential.

"He has goals, he is strong, he is fast, he has skills. He is a player who has shown he can do much more, so we are used to seeing much more.

"At this moment he is not at his best. He can produce much more for the team. 

"I don't know what happened with the player, probably he had some injuries or he is not so confident as before. 

"But he needs to get back to his best as quickly as possible because the team need him. 

"And he needs to start scoring his goals and perform the way he used to play because he will help the team a lot."

While their struggles in front of goal have been a problem – and a sixth 0-0 draw tied their club record for a Premier League season - the Palace draw did see United hit a notable landmark.

They are the first team since Arsenal's 'Invincibles' of 2003-04 to remain unbeaten for their first 14 away games of a top-flight campaign.

Manchester United were held to a third 0-0 draw in a row in all competitions as they failed to find a way past Crystal Palace on Wednesday. 

There was a paucity of quality in misty conditions at Selhurst Park as Ole Gunnar Solskaer's men handed Manchester City another boost in the Premier League title race. 

City's 4-1 win over Wolves on Tuesday stretched the gap at the top to 15 points, but United could not respond in kind against a Palace side who beat them 3-1 at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture. 

The Red Devils failed even to have a shot between the 27th and 81st minute and have now gone three games without scoring a goal, having recently been the leading scorers in England's top flight this term.

United started scrappily but twice came close to an opening goal inside the first 20 minutes, Nemanja Matic's deflected shot brilliantly saved by Vicente Guaita before Marcus Rashford skewed a clear chance wide. 

Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross nearly provided Edinson Cavani with a tap-in, but it was mostly a lifeless first-half display from the United attack, in keeping with their previous back-to-back goalless draws. 

There was little change early in the second half and Palace came close to snatching the lead through a half-volley from Andros Townsend that bounced wide. 

Substitute Dan James missed the ball when presented with a free header from a Luke Shaw cross, and Mason Greenwood fired over from the edge of the box, but that was as close as the visitors came. 

Patrick van Aanholt should have won the match when he was found by Luka Milivojevic, but Dean Henderson, in for the absent David de Gea, saved superbly at the feet of the left-back.

 
What does it mean? United being cut adrift by City 

Solskjaer insisted United would not let City run away with the title, but the gap between the top two now stands at 14 points ahead of Sunday's derby. 

Victory in that game would surely end any lingering United hopes of winning the trophy, and the Red Devils will need to improve significantly to get anything against Pep Guardiola's men. 

Palace have an 11-point gap to the bottom three and, despite having played a game more, they are beginning to look safe. 

Palace's protective Ward 

Rashford and Shaw were kept discernibly quiet down the United left thanks largely to Palace right-back Joel Ward. 

He made seven clearances and won back possession eight times for the home side in a diligent display, albeit one in which he was rarely stretched. 

Rotten Rashford 

Rashford's early miss set the tone for a dreadful performance in which he offered negligible threat down the United left. 

As the fog descended more thickly, Rashford seemed to fade further from the contest, which he ended with one shot, one cross and 29 completed passes. 

What's next? 

United head to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to meet the leaders, with Palace in action at Tottenham later that day. 

Manchester United should target Harry Kane or Erling Haaland to fill their central striking berth, according to club great Mark Hughes. 

United are the Premier League's top scorers this season with 53 goals, but they have struggled to break down the defences of some of the competition's best sides. 

The Red Devils' 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday was the fourth consecutive goalless draw they have played out against other "big six" opposition, while they have not scored in any of their past six meetings with these teams.

Edinson Cavani was brought in on a free transfer earlier in the season and has largely impressed in the central position up front, but the Uruguay international is 34 and not a viable long-term option. 

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have all been tried in the middle of a front three this season, but Hughes – who enjoyed spells at Old Trafford between 1980-1986 and 1988-1995 – is not convinced any of them are entirely comfortable there. 

And he thinks Tottenham's Kane and Borussia Dortmund's Haaland are the calibre of player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should set his sights on. 

"I've seen United lots and they have good quality at the top end of the pitch. Rashford and Greenwood are highly thought of," he told Sky Sports.

"For me, they needed the Cavani of five years ago when he was in his pomp; they've probably got him at the wrong time. 

"He's still an outstanding centre forward. When I see him in this team, I just think he gives them a bit more focus. He gives them the confidence to play it into his feet and things happen around him. 

"With Martial as well, they [him, Rashford and Greenwood] all want to play in any position other than down the middle. Rashford prefers to be on the left-hand side, Martial prefers to be on the left. Greenwood prefers the right-hand side. 

"They've all been tried down the middle but you sense not one of them wants to be there. So, they need to get someone with the quality to play down the middle and give them that focus."

Asked if Kane or Haaland were the answer to United's problem in that position, Hughes responded: "They're the type of player they need to be in the market for. 

"How accessible or how much ability United will have in the transfer market to get those players, who knows, because there are a lot of clubs that would covet them."

Marcus Rashford was tasked with leading Manchester United's attack at Stamford Bridge, while Timo Werner dropped to the Chelsea bench.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared on Friday that he was unsure if Cavani, who has had a positive impact this season since arriving on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, would overcome a knock which has kept him out since mid-February.

Paul Pogba was a confirmed absentee, however, and neither player featured as Solskjaer made five changes to his United team.

Rashford, who has been involved in seven goals in all competitions against Chelsea (five goals, two assists) – more than against any other side in his career – was instead given the central role that Anthony Martial had started in against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

That was one of five changes made by Solskjaer, who also brought back Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and David de Gea.

United are unbeaten in 19 Premier League away games (W13 D6), a run that began with a 2-0 win at Chelsea in February 2020. 

This is the Red Devils' longest unbeaten away run in their top-flight history, though their previous longest of 17 between December 1998-September 1999 ended with a 5-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea team have been in strong form.

After a frustrating draw with Southampton last week, Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League thanks to Olivier Giroud's stunning winner.

Giroud is rewarded with a start up top, with Tuchel making three alterations.

One of the players to drop out is Werner, who ended his long goalscoring drought in Chelsea's last home game – a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.

Hakim Ziyech is in to partner Mason Mount – who has scored two goals in his last three Premier League games, as many as in his previous 21 in the competition – behind Giroud, with N'Golo Kante replacing Jorginho in midfield and Ben Chilwell coming in at left wing-back.

Opposite Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi retains his place, despite the youngster being subbed on and subbed off in the draw with Southampton.

The away team has won all four of the previous managerial matches between Tuchel and Solskjaer, with all of those games taking place between United and PSG in the Champions League.

Manchester City will be looking to stretch their record winning run to 20 matches when they welcome fellow in-form side West Ham to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this weekend.

Pep Guardiola's men are 10 points clear at the summit and two of their players feature among our Opta-fuelled fantasy picks, along with a couple of Everton men on the back of last week's long-awaited derby win at Liverpool.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester City players are also selected ahead of games against Chelsea, Burnley and Arsenal respectively.

 

EDERSON

There are many factors behind the leaders' winning run - not least an incredible defensive record, with goalkeeper Ederson more than playing his part.

The Brazil international has kept 15 clean sheets from 24 Premier League games this term, averaging one every 1.6 matches.

Only two keepers to have played at least 10 times have averaged fewer games per clean sheet across an entire season - Chelsea's Petr Cech (24 in 35 apps in 2004-05) and former Manchester United stopper Edwin van der Sar (21 in 33 apps in 2008-09).

JOAO CANCELO

Simply keeping out the opposition is not enough in the life of a modern day full-back, best epitomised by Cancelo at Man City.

On top of helping City to that formidable defensive record, he has also created the most chances (34) from open play among fellow Premier League defenders this season.

Cancelo may only have set up two goals in the top flight this season, but he has the highest number of expected assists (4.28) among defenders, just ahead of Manchester United's Luke Shaw (4.04).

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the news Digne had signed a new long-term deal with Everton this week and little wonder given the full-back's impact on the side.

No Premier League defender has more assists than the 27-year-old's six this season - level with West Ham's Aaron Cresswell and one more than Andy Robertson and Shaw.

Since Digne's debut for Everton in August 2018, only Liverpool pair Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (28) have assisted more goals than the Frenchman (17).

GYLFI SIGURDSSON

There was a point when Sigurdsson's time at Everton appeared to be up not so long ago, but the creative midfielder has more than proved his worth to the side of late.

He was been involved in six Premier League goals in 23 appearances this term - four goals and two assists - which is one more than he managed in 35 games last season.

That is a tally he will be confident of building on this gameweek, as the Iceland international has only scored more Premier League goals against Chelsea (six) than he has versus opponents Southampton (five).

 

MARCUS RASHFORD

In the week he celebrates the five-year anniversary since scoring twice on his United debut, Rashford takes on his favourite opponents in Chelsea.

The United academy product has scored five times against the Blues in all competitions and registered a couple of assists.

Only against Leicester City has he found the net as many times, while only against Newcastle United and West Ham (both seven) has he been directly involved in more goals.

HARRY KANE

If Rashford enjoys playing against Chelsea, the same is true of Kane against Tottenham's next opponents Burnley.

The England skipper has been directly involved in 10 goals in nine Premier League appearances against the Clarets, finding the net seven times and laying on three assists.

Burnley's defenders will not look forward to coming up against Kane, with Riyad Mahrez the only player to score against them more often (eight times) in their Premier League history.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Vardy's scoring record against the division's traditional top four is well known by now, particularly when it comes to facing Arsenal.

The Leicester striker has scored 11 goals in 12 previous Premier League appearances against the Gunners, including a late winner in the reverse fixture.

Those 11 strikes place Vardy behind only Wayne Rooney for goals scored against Arsenal in the competition, the United legend netting 12 times against the London club in his career.

Jose Mourinho lavished praise on Tottenham youngster Dane Scarlett following an impressive Europa League cameo, likening him to Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

The 16-year-old made his fourth senior appearance for the club on Wednesday, coming off the bench for the final 10 minutes a 4-0 win over Wolfsberger.

And he made a telling impact almost immediately, hustling a defender out of possession to set up Carlos Vinicius for the hosts' fourth goal.

Mourinho could barely contain his delight at the rapid progress of a player whose quality reminds him of another major talent he once helped develop.

"He is a diamond, a kid with incredible potential," the Portuguese told BT Sport.

"He has worked many times with the first team and that gives him a different personality. He is still 16, 17 soon [in March] and I believe next season he will be a first-team squad player because he has a lot of talent.

"He is going to be a fantastic player and I hope everything around him goes well. He is a striker, a number nine, I have been playing him from the sides similar to Marcus Rashford and he is very clever.”

Mourinho praised Scarlett even further in his post-match media conference, revealing the teenager is already splitting his time between the senior squad and Under-23s.

"Dane has incredible talent. I don't want to speak too much because tomorrow I arrive in the building and the kid's boss is going to kill me," he added.

"I don't want that so I don't want to speak too well about him. I just want to say that he will be 17 next month and I want him to be part of the first-team squad next season.

"So this season he is there and here, goes to training sessions with us and matches with the kids of his age and trains there.

"Next season he has to be a first-team player. Immense talent. Very good physical development.

"He's very good, he's going to be very good. I hope that nothing is going to destroy that potential. He must have feet on the ground and head on his shoulders because he has a fantastic talent."

Thursday marks exactly five years since Marcus Rashford exploded onto the scene for Manchester United.

Having been fast-tracked into the first-team squad due to injuries, the then-18-year-old was handed a surprise start against Midtjylland in the Europa League after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up.

Rashford responded with two goals in a 5-1 win, both in front of the Stretford End, in a game neither he nor fans have forgotten.

On February 25, 2021, Rashford could well be afforded a rest when United host Real Sociedad at Old Trafford, having scored in the 4-0 first-leg win to put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side in control of the tie.

The importance of saving Rashford for major games to come is a sign of his status within the squad after five years, three different permanent managers and a single-minded development into an elite forward in the making.

FORMIDABLE

Rashford has played 253 times in all competitions for United, starting 181 of those games. Nobody has played as many for the club since his debut, with David de Gea next on 227 appearances.

The 23-year-old has scored 85 goals – as many as David Beckham managed in his Red Devils career – and provided 38 assists. Again, that's the most of any player in the past five years, with Martial next on 68 goals and 36 assists.

Rashford averages a goal every 198 minutes across his United career, with the vast majority (70) coming from his right foot. Although 75 of his goals have been scored from inside the box, he has scored more often from outside the penalty area (10 times) than he has from the spot itself (nine).

After scoring eight goals in his debut season in 2015-16, Rashford has consistently built on his numbers, with 11, 13 and 13 registered in the following three seasons. Last term was undoubtedly his best, with 22 goals and eight assists in 44 appearances, and he is on target to beat that in 2020-21, having already scored 18 and set up a further nine.

FAVOURITES

Rashford might be happy to be facing Chelsea on Sunday. He has scored five times against the Blues in 12 games, making them his favourite opponents alongside Leicester City (five goals in 11 games).

Rarely one to shy away from the big occasion, Rashford has scored four times against Liverpool and Manchester City, and three against Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Tottenham.

His favourite supporting act is Juan Mata, who has provided the most assists (seven) for Rashford goals, ahead of Martial (six). Perhaps in a sign of United's greater attacking endeavours under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, three of the players to assist Rashford the most (Daniel James and Mason Greenwood with four, and Bruno Fernandes with five) have all made their debuts since the start of last season.

HALL OF FAME

Rashford has been directly involved in 80 goals (53 scored, 27 assisted) in his 167 Premier League appearances to date. That's a better return than David Beckham (77), Ryan Giggs (75) and Paul Scholes (64) managed in their first 167 games in the competition.

He is a little way behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who managed 98 combined goals and assists in his first 167 games in England's top flight, while Rashford's manager Solskjaer recorded 106 goal involvements in those first 167 outings, just behind Andrew Cole (108) and Wayne Rooney (111).

Interestingly, Martial managed more (81) in just his first 165 Premier League appearances. Similarly, Ruud van Nistelrooy needed just 150 Premier League games to provide 109 direct goal involvements, while the great Eric Cantona reached 115 in just 143 games.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has encouraged Marcus Rashford to follow the example of Cristiano Ronaldo in order to make the most of his Manchester United career. 

February 25 marks five years since the forward's memorable debut for the Red Devils, when he scored twice in a 5-1 Europa League defeat of Midtjylland at Old Trafford. 

Having been drafted hastily into Louis van Gaal's first-team squad due to injuries and then thrust into the starting line-up when Anthony Martial was hurt in the warm-up, Rashford, then 18, struck twice in 12 minutes to help his side progress. 

Rashford has since developed into a key part of United and England's plans, with 85 goals and 38 assists in 253 games in all competitions at club level, plus 11 goals in 40 appearances for the national team. 

His strike in the 3-1 win over Newcastle United last Sunday drew him level with David Beckham for United goals, just 33 behind Ronaldo. 

Manager Solskjaer hopes Rashford takes inspiration from the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who leads the goalscoring charts in Serie A this season after turning 36 three weeks ago. 

Speaking ahead of Thursday's Europa League last-32 second leg against Real Sociedad, Solskjaer said: "He's had an incredible impact on and off the pitch. He's matured, grown into a real proper young man.

"He knows what it takes to be a Manchester United player on and off the pitch, he's taken responsibility on it and off it. I do remember [his debut]: a young little lad coming on, two nice goals, celebration with his team-mates in the stand and I think he's living proof of what we want to do at the club. 

"When you sign for Man United, whether you're five, six, 10, 14, you have a chance to make dreams come true and long may it continue, he's got 10-15 years left in him. 

"You have to be meticulous to last for a long career. We've had the best possible example of that in world football with Cristiano. The way he has looked after himself, the way he came into the club and we all took notice the way he developed throughout his career and the way he looked after himself is major. 

"I'm sure Marcus as well is looking after himself. That's the only way to be at the top: you can't get distracted and if you play until you're 35 you can do whatever you want after that." 

Rashford scored in United's commanding first-leg victory in Turin, a result that puts them in a strong position to progress to the last 16. 

With Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek sidelined and a Premier League game at Chelsea to come on Sunday, Solskjaer could well hand opportunities to youngsters such as Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo, although Hannibal Mejbri will miss out through injury.

"Amad and Shola will be involved, they're in the squad and I'm not going to tell you if they're starting or not," he said.

"I believe in the youth, I believe if young players, if they get a chance, they can really develop, improve, impress, even surprise you and that's just part of this club and it's part of me.

"I've always loved working with young players and hungry players with a good attitude. If you've got a good attitude, you've got a good chance; if you don't, then there's less of a chance."

Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

Fernandes took his tally to 33 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils to put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men in charge inside the first hour.

The LaLiga side had posed a threat at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, where the match was being held due to coronavirus travel restrictions, but Marcus Rashford and Daniel James struck before Amad Diallo was granted his debut late on, meaning United go into next week's return leg in a commanding position.

Former United man Adnan Januzaj curled a shot just wide of the right-hand post and Dean Henderson had to save smartly from Alexander Isak, those chances coming either side of a wasted Rashford opportunity in a thrilling opening three minutes.

Scott McTominay, who had scored three goals in United's previous four games, was denied another by the leg of Alex Remiro after driving into the box from Fernandes' pass.

Rashford then missed another glorious opportunity, firing straight at Remiro after Alex Telles' throughball to Fernandes split the Sociedad defence.

However, he turned provider in the 26th minute. This time, Remiro made a mess of things coming off his line to clear Rashford's pass and clattered into his defenders, giving Fernandes a simple finish.

La Real applied some pressure early in the second half but United doubled their lead on the break. Fernandes let Rashford's pass run to Daniel James and then swept a first-time finish past Remiro, with VAR overturning an initial offside call.

Januzaj continued to threaten against his old club, beating Fernandes and playing in a dangerous cross that Nemanja Matic cleared, but Rashford made no mistake with the third of his chances to kill off the game, slotting past Remiro after Fred's pass cut through the defence.

James had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside and fired another effort straight at Remiro, but he made no mistake with his next chance, charging into the box and squeezing a shot through the keeper's legs.

What does it mean? United end Spanish hoodoo to take charge of tie

United had gone nine games without a win against Spanish sides in Europe stretching back to a 1-0 semi-final first-leg victory over Celta Vigo en route to winning this trophy in 2016-17.

This was a welcome result against a strong side that saw United find something of their attacking groove again and take control of the last-32 tie.

They have been inconsistent at home this season, but they will be firm favourites to progress next week at Old Trafford.

Bruno is frankly brilliant

Fernandes has been involved in 53 goals in 58 games for United in all competitions, which is 10 more than any other Premier League player has managed since his debut last February.

Imanol Alguacil's set-up afforded him lots of space to exploit but, unlike some of his team-mates, Fernandes almost always applies a clinical touch.

United can still sharpen up in attack

This proved a comfortable win but, in truth, United should have had many more. Rashford missed two sitters in the first half, James missed an easier chance than the one he converted, and Greenwood dragged a good opening wide.

Should they progress to the latter stages, they will want to avoid a repeat of last year's semi-final exit when Sevilla punished their lack of ruthlessness. This was an encouraging step towards correcting that problem.

What's next?

Before next Thursday's second leg, United are at home to Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday, with Sociedad hosting Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga.

Manchester City are five points clear at the top of the Premier League after their demolition of defending champions Liverpool last time out.

With Guardiola getting the better of one managerial rival already this term in Jurgen Klopp, City's focus now switches to a clash with Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

Key to City's superb form has been Ilkay Gundogan, who has scored nine goals this season in the league, three more than his previous best of six from 2018-19.

Given he scored twice at Anfield – while also missing a penalty – it would seem a smart decision for fantasy football managers to back Gundogan again this weekend, though which other players should make the cut?

ROBERT SANCHEZ

Another team in fine form as of late have been Brighton and Hove Albion, who have conceded just one goal in their last five top-flight matches, with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez certainly playing his part.

Sanchez ousted Mat Ryan – now on loan at Arsenal – as first choice earlier in the season, and of all goalkeepers to have played at least 10 Premier League games this season, only Ederson (one every 145 minutes) and Edouard Mendy (114 minutes) have a better minutes-per-goal conceded rate than Sanchez (one every 98 minutes). He has played 12 times, conceding 11 goals.

MATT TARGETT

Going up against Brighton this weekend are Aston Villa, and one defender to look out for could be Matt Targett.

Brighton have not scored more than once in a league match since a 3-3 draw with Wolves on January 2, and Villa left-back Targett has been involved in 11 clean sheets this season – more than any other Premier League defender apart from Ruben Dias.

AARON CRESSWELL

If you are looking for a more attacking option, however, then that player may well be West Ham's Aaron Cresswell.

The full-back has registered five league assists this season, second to only Everton's Lucas Digne (six) in terms of defenders, while only Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (38) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw (36) can better his tally of 34 chances created by a defender.

ILKAY GUNDOGAN

In Kevin De Bruyne's absence, Gundogan has come to the fore for Guardiola's team, and the former Borussia Dortmund man is the highest scorer in the Premier League so far in 2021 with seven goals in eight games.

The German's previous seven goals in the competition came over a period of 62 games, dating back to 2018.

JACK GREALISH

With Brighton's Sanchez in such fine form for Brighton, it could be a tough decision for fantasy managers, especially with Jack Grealish being so prominent in Villa's attack.

Grealish, arguably the league's player of the season so far, has been directly involved in five goals in his last five appearances against Brighton in all competitions (four goals, one assist), scoring in his last two games at the Amex.

PATRICK BAMFORD

Leeds United returned to winning ways as they saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 on Monday, with a trip to Arsenal up next on Sunday.

Patrick Bamford scored Leeds' second at Elland Road against Palace, and he has been involved in five goals in his last three Premier League games, netting twice and providing three assists. Eight of his 12 Premier League goals this season have been away from home (67 per cent).

MARCUS RASHFORD

Another forward who has thrived on the road in 2020-21 is Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

He has netted eight times in the Premier League this season, with six of those goals – 75 per cent – having come away from Old Trafford. The England international has never scored more in a single campaign on the road.

The Premier League has launched its No Room For Racism Action Plan, as a number of players continue to be subjected to racial abuse.

While the competition has previously had to deal with incidents of racism from certain sections of supporters at matches, players are also now being targeted with abuse online.

In the past 10 days, both Manchester United and Chelsea have condemned incidents of racism on social media, with England internationals Marcus Rashford and Reece James among those targeted.

The Rashford attacks came just days after his team-mates Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were also abused, with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calling on social media platforms to do more to prevent the "unacceptable behaviour"

Since the competition resumed in June last year following a coronavirus-enforced suspension, players, managers, coaching staff and match officials have all taken a knee prior to kick-off in every Premier League game in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

The league has now taken another step to tackle the problem, introducing the No Room For Racism Action Plan.

The proposals have been given unanimous support by the 20 Premier League clubs at last week's shareholders' meeting, and has six key commitments.

These include committing to increased diversity in leadership positions in all areas, with the Premier League setting itself a target of having 18 per cent of staff from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background by 2026, while also having 42 per cent of roles filled by women by the same year.

In coaching, the league will aim to develop more black, Asian, ethnic minority and female coaches, while it will work to ensure that every player has the opportunity to achieve their potential at Premier League academies and in their future careers, whether in football or elsewhere, regardless of ethnicity or background.

"Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities and cultures from all backgrounds," Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said in a statement.

"This diversity has made the game stronger on the pitch and it is vital we ensure this is reflected across all areas of the game.

"There is no place for racism in our sport and the Premier League will continue to take action against all forms of discrimination so that football is inclusive and welcoming for all."

Manchester United's forwards have their "mojo" back after leading Tuesday's remarkable 9-0 demolition of nine-man Southampton at Old Trafford.

It was only the third instance of a team winning a Premier League match by nine goals and the first time United have won by that margin since March 1995, when they beat Ipswich Town by the same score.

While Andy Cole was the five-goal inspiration in that 1995 win, this time United shared the goals around – seven players netted on Tuesday, making it only the second occasion so many different individuals have netted for the same team in a single Premier League match.

Among them were Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani, providing the perfect response to Solskjaer's pre-match comments maligning the loss of his forwards' "mojo".

"Yeah, of course they have," Solskjaer said with a laugh to BT Sport when asked if they had recovered that "mojo".

"You get lots of confidence from a performance like this and the result, scoring goals is always good for forwards and the team."

He added: "We have been waiting for them to show their magic and tonight was a night they could go and enjoy.

"We haven't had too many of those where you can sit down in the second half and enjoy the football, so they enjoyed it. There were some good performances."

Alexandre Jankewitz's red card for a shocking second-minute tackle on Scott McTominay – who was also among the scorers – left Saints with an uphill battle, and Jan Bednarek followed him down the tunnel in the second half in rather more controversial circumstances.

But the focus will be on United's scoring prowess in the contest, as they put Saints to the sword.

Rashford's goal saw him move on to 83 for the club, overtaking Eric Cantona, and Solskjaer took the moment to praise the England international as he has occasionally had to contend with critics urging him to concentrate on his football amid his charitable efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

"That's not bad," Solskjaer said of Rashford surpassing Cantona. "Eric was a fantastic player to play with and Marcus has a great career ahead of him.

"What he's done this season, this year, it just shows he can still focus on his football as well."

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