Gareth Southgate labelled Marcus Rashford at the World Cup as a “completely different player” to his England performances during the delayed Euro 2020.
The Manchester United forward missed a spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out in the European Championship final defeat to Italy before a wave of online racial abuse was targeted at Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho.
Rashford appeared out of form following the Euro 2020 heartbreak but impressive club performances for United ahead of the November break saw him secure a place in Southgate’s 26-man squad for Qatar.
The 25-year-old scored as a substitute in the 6-2 victory over Iran and celebrated a brace after starting in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Wales to send England through as Group B winners.
That made Rashford the first United player to score three goals at a major tournament for England since Bobby Charlton at the 1966 World Cup, leading Southgate to hail the striker’s transformation.
“It has been a challenge for him. I went and saw him before the season and had a long chat with him, he had some clear ideas on what he needed to do,” the England manager said of Rashford.
“With his club, he’s been happy with his performances this year and it showed on the training ground with us.
“We’ve got a completely different player here than we did at the Euros, he could have had a hat-trick in the first half as he was getting in all the right areas. He deserved his goals.”