The composed finish. That now-familiar finger-to-the-temple celebration pose.
Marcus Rashford continued his prolific post-World Cup scoring spree for Manchester United on Wednesday to put the team back on course for Champions League qualification.
The England forward’s 28th-minute goal secured a 1-0 victory over Brentford in the pouring rain at Old Trafford as United ended a three-match winless run in the Premier League to move back into the top four.
United is tied for points with third-place Newcastle, which was helped by some woeful defending by relegation-threatened West Ham in a 5-1 thrashing at the London Stadium.
Callum Wilson and Joelinton scored two goals apiece in Newcastle’s fourth straight win. Boos from the home fans greeted the final whistle, with West Ham only out of the relegation zone on goal difference and manager David Moyes seemingly back under big pressure.
Newcastle and Man United look to be the favorites to claim the final two Champions League spots behind Arsenal and Manchester City, the teams battling for the title.
Tottenham is three points further back in fifth but has played one game more.
Rashford is in his career-best scoring form, having netted 28 goals in all competitions — 15 of them in the league — to be tied with Bruno Fernandes and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the most in a single season since Alex Ferguson retired. There could be as many as 17 games left for United, which is still in the FA Cup and the Europa League.
No player in the Premier League has scored more than Rashford’s 11 since the competition resumed in late December after the World Cup, explaining the nonchalance with which he took his goal against Brentford as he met Marcel Sabitzer’s nod-down with a sidefooted finish into the roof of the net.
United hadn’t scored in its last three league games — a 7-0 hammering by Liverpool, a 0-0 stalemate with Southampton and a 2-0 loss at Newcastle on Sunday.
“We are in that period of the season where every game is important and every game counts,” Rashford said, “so we are pleased to win and hopefully we can get back to where we were a few weeks ago.”
Luke Shaw’s 250th appearance for United lasted just 37 minutes before he was replaced by Tyrell Malacia because of an apparent injury.
Wilson scored early in each half for Newcastle to take his goal tally to 12 in 13 meetings with West Ham, meaning only Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen have netted more times against the team from London in the Premier League.
The England international presents a podcast with West Ham striker Michail Antonio, and he promised he would dance the Macarena if he scored in the game. He was true to his word after the sixth-minute opener.
Joelinton made it 2-0 before Kurt Zouma pulled a goal back for West Ham, which collapsed in the second half with a couple of big mistakes at the back.
Nayef Aguerd’s error allowed Wilson to score just 21 seconds after the restart before goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski made a mess of clearing Bruno Guimaraes’ ball over the top eight minutes from time, allowing Alexander Isak to lob the ball into an empty net.
Joelinton broke clear in the 90th for Newcastle’s fifth goal.
Asked about West Ham’s fans leaving early, Moyes said: “I would have left as well. But the players were working as hard as they could, their effort was fantastic.”
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
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