Football News

Marcus Rashford backs Amad Diallo for more playing time after FA Cup heroics against Liverpool

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 11:00, 18 March 2024

Marcus Rashford believes Amad Diallo will be handed more opportunities after his dramatic 121st-minute winner for Manchester United in their FA Cup quarter-final tie against Liverpool.

In a back-and-forth contest, both teams exchanged leads before Diallo’s extra-time effort decided the game. Erik Ten Hag’s men broke the deadlock through Scott McTominay, only for Alexis Mac Allister and Mohamed Salah to net minutes within each other before half-time.

Antony levelled proceedings with the Reds seemingly heading towards another semi-final, forcing an additional 30 minutes. Harvey Elliott, who also came off the bench, restored Liverpool’s advantage, but it proved short-lived as Rashford equalised once more for the hosts.

With penalties looming, Erik ten Hag’s men regained possession after clearing a Kostas Tsimikas corner; Alejandro Garnacho found Amad Diallo, who sent Old Trafford into raptures.

The 21-year-old would score the latest winning goal in any match in the FA Cup proper (120:07) since West Ham United v Kidderminster Harriers in February 2022 (120:48), and Rashford couldn’t be more pleased for his underutilised teammate.

“I’m happy for him. He’s been working hard this year, and he’s probably not had the opportunities we would have wished,” he told ITV Sport. “But listen, if he wants more opportunities, there’s no better way to prove it than nights like tonight.”

Since joining from Atalanta in January 2021, opportunities in United’s first team have been limited for the Ivory Coast international, with this latest outing being his 13th appearance (two goals and one assist) for the Red Devils.

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“I’m so happy for him,” head coach Ten Hag said in his post-match conference. “He is one of the players who had huge setbacks this season, having a bad injury and returning from it. But then we turned into a team where [there is] a lot of competition in his position, and he doesn’t always get the time to play he deserves based on his training performances.

“Then he comes on and shows his contribution by scoring a goal. But we know he can do it. We know he has that key moment where he can decide a game. And so I’m very pleased that he got the winner.”

Diallo, though, will not be available for United’s immediate fixture (at Brentford in the Premier League) after the international break, as he will be suspended. Having already been cautioned for committing a foul, referee John Brooks brandished a second yellow card due to removing his shirt in celebration.

“What a game. We deserved this win,” Diallo reflected. “It was one of the best games of the season. It was a very important moment. It was the best goal of my career. You need to believe every single moment. I’m very happy. I forgot the first yellow, so I’m disappointed for the red card. But the most important thing is to win against a big team like Liverpool.”

As touched upon, Diallo hasn’t enjoyed regular playing time under Ten Hag, with only five appearances coming in England’s top division, the most recent a 10-minute cameo against Fulham last month.

Diallo’s other goal for Man Utd came under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in a Europa League round of 16 first-leg meeting with Milan in March 2021. “He’s creative. He plays with freedom,” the Norwegian coach then said.

Having signed a four-year contract with an option for a further year, Diallo recently enjoyed a season-long loan spell at Sunderland, where he bagged 14 goals across 42 appearances. That spell came after a brief period at Rangers (three goals in 13 matches).

“I was last season at Sunderland [on loan] and my dream was to play for Manchester United. So I am here to dream every moment. Every moment is like a dream,” Diallo added.