Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Marcus Rashford made a bold claim for a place at Euro 2016 as the Manchester United sensation took just 135 seconds to became the youngest player to score on his England debut in Friday’s 2-1 win against Australia.
Rashford’s meteoric rise hit new heights when the teenage striker opened the scoring in the Euro 2016 warm-up with a clinical volley at the Stadium of Light.
No player of such a tender age had ever found the net on his England bow and at the age of 18 years and 209 days, Rashford is behind only former Liverpool star Michael Owen (18 years and 164 days) and United captain Wayne Rooney (17 years 317 days) in the list of the youngest scorers in an England shirt.
Rashford has less than a season’s worth of experience, but England manager Roy Hodgson now has strong evidence he is already worthy of featuring at the European Championships.
Rooney came off the bench to score England’s second after the interval before Australia got one back through Eric Dier’s own goal.
But, while Rashford shone, the likes of right-back Nathaniel Clyne and midfielders Jack Wilshere and Danny Drinkwater were less impressive and face a nervous wait to see if they have made the flight to France.
There was also concern over United defender Chris Smalling, who limped off in the second half.
Hodgson, who made eight changes from Sunday’s win over Turkey, has until May 31 to name his final 23-man squad.
Just 92 days ago, Rashford was an unknown yet to play a professional game as he strove to emerge from the youth ranks at Old Trafford.
But he has seized his chance in remarkable fashion, scoring eight goals in 18 United appearances and helping the team win the FA Cup.
With Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge sidelined with a calf problem, Rashford was selected as the 10th youngest player in England history and any thoughts he might be fazed by the latest step in his fairytale career were erased in the third minute.
– Bashful –
Receiving possession 25 yards from goal, Rashford moved the ball onto Raheem Sterling before advancing into the penalty area.
When Sterling’s cross deflected off Bailey Wright and looped high into the air, Rashford adjusted his stride and hit a close-range volley that flashed under Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.
Rashford’s bashful expression as he emerged from a huddle of his jubilant team-mates gave the impression his historic strike was nothing out of the ordinary for a kid who grew up in the modest Manchester suburb of Wythenshawe.