Marcus Rashford has revealed how Romelu Lukaku’s selfless gesture enabled him to fire home the winning penalty in Manchester United‘s memorable Champions League turnaround at Paris Saint-Germain.
Having lost the first leg of last season’s last-16 tie 2-0 at Old Trafford, United made the trip to Paris with several first-team players missing through injury.
Despite the odds being against the Red Devils, Lukaku’s double – which was split by Juan Bernat’s leveller – set the scene for a dramatic finale, during which Presnel Kimpembe was judged to have handled in the penalty area deep into second-half stoppage time.
Lukaku, who has since moved to Inter, could have opted to take the spot-kick himself and try and complete his hat-trick.
Instead he offered the ball to Rashford, who duly smashed his effort home.
Speaking to tennis star Andy Murray during a live video, Rashford explained: “The penalty was between me and Rom I think.
“But you know Rom is one of those guys who if, well, in that particular game he’d scored two goals already, he could have taken it and got a hat-trick.
“But he’s the kind of guy that when you play in a strike partnership with him, he wants you both to do well and he just threw the ball to me and said you take it.
“Which of course I was willing to let him take it because it’s an opportunity for a hat-trick you know which is obviously a very good achievement.
“But he just said he wanted me to take it so that was when you just sort of prepare yourself for the moment and just try and relax.
“You know you think about the times that you’ve practiced, and you want your head to be focused.”
Rashford also opened up on how the attention he received off the pitch after bursting onto the scene as a teenager was initially a struggle.
“I can’t say I’ve ever really enjoyed the attention off the pitch,” he added. “That’s one thing growing up as a footballer that you never think about.
“You always think about playing in the first team and scoring goals for United or at Old Trafford or any stadium. But you forget how your life can change overnight.
“Things that you can do with your friends, things that you can do with your family, the places you can go, it all changes.
“And I probably wasn’t as prepared for that bit as I was the actual going on the pitch and playing.
“For me that bit was the easier bit. It obviously took a lot of hard work to get there but when the opportunity came up I felt ready to step up.”
Rashford scored twice on debut against Midtjylland in a Europa League tie in February 2016 before marking his Premier League bow against Arsenal with another brace three days later.
“I remember a couple of months before my debut I was on the bench and at that moment I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel like I belonged in the first team,” said Rashford, who credited ex-boss Louis van Gaal for thrusting him into action at the right time.
“You know that’s why timing is so important. I wasn’t ready to play that game so I think the manager knew what he was doing at the time.
“Van Gaal is very experienced with young players and he wanted to wait for the right time.
“When I made my debut it just felt natural, it just felt like I was playing with my normal team-mates.”