Marcus Rashford, David De Gea excel for Manchester United vs. West Ham
Manchester United proceeded to the semi-finals of the FA Cup following two excellent performances from an old hand and a new one.
Goalkeeper David De Gea should take most of the plaudits for his role in United's 2-1 win at West Ham, following three saves of the very highest quality, but striker Marcus Rashford should not be too far behind after producing an equally breathtaking finish. De Gea's brilliance is becoming routine, while Rashford's talent continues to emerge in thrilling fashion.
There must be a great deal of praise for Marouane Fellaini, too, who gave one of his best all-round showings in a United shirt. Manager Louis van Gaal has been very far from his best this season, but against an opponent and a manager regarded as one of the smartest tactical sides in the country, he added a considerable feather to his cap.
United, remarkably, still have a chance at glory this season.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 9 -- Made three exceptional saves in the second half, two of which came in quick succession after he was exposed by his centre-backs. Was blameless for West Ham's only goal, as his centre-backs failed to track Andy Carroll, leading to James Tomkins' score. From the moment he made a good early save from a one-on-one, he was a commanding and decisive presence. Outstanding, yet again.
DF Timothy Fosu-Mensah, 7-- After an excellent outing in his last game in the Premier League against Spurs, he had a difficult start here, being exposed by clever running on two occasions in the first half and being drawn into making fouls. He recovered sharply though, and ended up covering on both flanks when United got forward, closing down attacking threats on the left-side. An outing of impressive maturity.
DF Daley Blind, 6 -- Passed the ball forward well, with decent delivery from set-pieces, but was caught flailing dangerously in a couple of one-on-one situations and exposed De Gea as a result. Composed in attack, not so much so at the back.
DF Chris Smalling, 6 -- Had the hardest assignment of the night, against Carroll, and just about scraped through. Should probably have done better to pick Carroll up before he assisted West Ham's only goal, and looked anxious for a 15-minute period in the second half. Aside from that nervous stretch, he held the line well.
DF Marcos Rojo, 6 -- Failed to provide impetus down the left in the first half, which was disappointing given the good movement from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford ahead of him. Was reasonably solid after an uncertain start, and looked much more secure by the time he was withdrawn.
MF Michael Carrick, 6 -- Covered well in deep defensive areas at the start, and passed the ball with ambition that was not always matched by accuracy. Picked up a yellow early on, which compromised him in some of his challenges, but just about managed to bring calm at some vital moments.
MF Marouane Fellaini, 7 -- Broke forward well, looking as comfortable on the ball as he has in some time, and had a good first-half effort on goal. He was emboldened enough to provide the winner, a goal to please any poacher. Might have done better to prevent West Ham's goal, and showed his nastily physical streak, but his performance was essential.
MF Ander Herrera, 6 -- Had a very slow start, looking sluggish and sub-par for the first half, but was much more influential in the second. Helped to raise United's intensity at a time when they needed it most.
MF Jesse Lingard, 7 -- Industrious as ever, with his execution not always matching his vision. However, this was one of his better games, where he got into excellent positions and played a significant role in Fellaini's winning goal. Should perhaps have scored in the first half, but his contribution was still decisive.
MF Anthony Martial, 7 -- Exciting whenever in possession after taking a little while to get into the game, and supplied the final pass for both United goals. A potent attacking threat throughout.
FW Marcus Rashford, 8 -- Provided an exceptional finish, a curling strike high into the far corner that could have graced Dennis Bergkamp's highlight film. Moved superbly into space throughout, and pressed not only with energy but intelligence.
MF Antonio Valencia, 7 -- Replaced Rojo on 68 minutes. Made a good interception and closed down space well on the right flank after his introduction.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, NR -- Came on for Herrera in the 77th minute. A change made to close the game out, and he put in a typically resolute shift.
FW Wayne Rooney, NR -- Replaced Rashford in the 90th minute. Good to have him back in the team as an attacking option, though was not able to make too much of an impression in his short time on the pitch.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.