Marcus Rashford will only get better for Manchester United but he's not the finished article yet, warns Jesse Lingard

Rashford responded to criticism for an apparent dive against Swansea by scoring a crucial free-kick winner in United's Europa League semi-final

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The Independent Football

Marcus Rashford has become Manchester United’s talisman as he continues to finish key chances - especially in the Europa League - but teammate Jesse Lingard encouragingly feels he is still far from the finished article, because he still has so much potential to grow into an even better player as he learns the game.

The midfielder also cited how Rashford responded to criticism for the controversial penalty won against Swansea City with a crucial and brilliant strike against Celta Vigo as evidence of his developing maturity.

The 19-year-old had appeared to dive in that league match last Sunday, and faced the first controversy of his short career so far, but followed it with a brilliant free-kick at the Balaidos on Thursday that reflected hours of work on the training ground.

“It’s part and parcel of football,” Lingard said of the criticism Rashford received for the Swansea penalty. “He’s going to learn. People are always going to have an opinion. You’ve just got to focus on the next game and he’s bounced back with that goal.

“He can handle the pressure. He’s been about long enough now to handle the pressure. He’s scored major goals for United and again he’s got the important goal. He’s still going. He’s going to fill out even more. His knowledge of the game, his game intelligence will continue to grow and he’ll keep learning and go from there.

“Of late he’s been put on set-pieces and his corner delivery and free-kicks have been excellent. Close to goal he’s got a real chance of scoring.”

Lingard also revealed that Rashford has regularly been scoring set-pieces like his curled effort against Celta in training.

“Yeah I have [seen him do that]. He practises them. Practice makes perfect and he’s worked on that. Obviously he’s seen the keeper move to the left and he’s created that space for himself to find the corner.”

Lingard meanwhile struck a different chord to his manager by stating that United are still in the race for the top four, ahead of their trip to Arsenal on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho had said on Thursday evening that he felt the 1-1 draw against Swansea was their “last chance” to make the Champions League through their league position and will consequently be resting players for the Europa League semi-final second leg, but the midfielder insisted United are “not out of it yet”. Lingard also stated that they would be treating games like Sunday as a “final”.

“We have got to keep the pressure on the top four, we’re not out of it yet. We have got the belief and the manager believes in us to get there,” he said.

“I think from now until the end of the season every game is big. We’ve got to treat them like finals. We’ve got to win the games and hopefully we beat Arsenal and can concentrate on the next game.

“The Champions League is massive and United should be there. It’s unfortunate we’re in this competition this year but week in, week out we’ve given 100 per cent in the Europa League.”