Man Utd have two players doing what Ronaldo was meant to after Chelsea win

Manchester United V Chelsea: Pictures

Manchester United are back in the Champions League. Erik ten Hag’s side were too strong for Chelsea on Thursday night, claiming all three points after a stirring 4-1 victory following goals from Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes. And it would be interesting to hear what Cristiano Ronaldo would have to say about his old side as they return to Europe’s top-tier club competition…

Manchester United had gone into their game against Chelsea knowing they needed just a point to finish in the top four.

And they got all three instead, with Joao Felix’s impressive consolation not enough to give the Blues anything from the contest.

United are now back in the Champions League. In Rashford and Casemiro, they also have two players who are now doing exactly what Ronaldo was meant to.

Upon returning from Juventus in 2021, the 38-year-old was obviously expected to score goals.

But while he bagged 24 across all competitions last term, Rashford has bettered that tally by six this season.

The England international has been reborn ever since Ronaldo’s departure, with his goal against Chelsea seeing him break the 30-goal barrier for the first time in his career.

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The 25-year-old deserves every plaudit for his performances, especially given how dire he was 12 months ago.

Rashford provided United’s attack with a new dimension, having been forced to come on earlier than expected following an injury to Antony.

He has now become the first United player since Robin van Persie to score 30 goals in a single season, with the Dutchman previously managing that feat all the way back in 2013.

And then there’s Casemiro: the leader United thought Ronaldo would be.

When they re-signed the Portugal international two years ago, he was expected to be the player to galvanise and inspire his team-mates.

Instead, many players in red and white were overawed by his presence. Simply put, he was just too big a superstar to be around.

With Casemiro, however, it’s different. The United star has flourished ever since his summer move from Real Madrid and he was outstanding again against Chelsea.

His goal – a rising, thunderbolt header – soothed the nerves on what could have been a tense night at Old Trafford.

United spent most of the summer transfer window chasing deals for the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot.

But Casemiro has been money well spent and, without him, their season could have panned out totally differently.

Ten Hag was full of praise for his midfield general after the game, saying: “He’s a massive player.

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“Such a good signing. He adapted so well to Premier League football.

“He missed many games and we noticed that. When he’s not there our game is different.

“You see how important he is in everything. This week twice he’s scored.

“The first goal is always the most important of the game. He’s doing a massive job and we’re really happy.”

On Rashford, and the future of the United star, he added: “We’re working on that. I have a good feeling about that.

“Marcus wants to stay, we want him to say.”

And, on his side’s overall performance, he added: “This club belongs in the Champions League.

“It’s not easy in the Premier League so a lot compete for that. It’s massive when you get it done.

“We showed the winning attitude. Chelsea have outstanding players but in the counter attacks we were really good, really dangerous.

“We scored four in the end. We should’ve scored more but they could score as well.”

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