FOOTBALL

Rashford will still 'put his hand up' for shoot-outs despite penalty miss, says Solskjaer

Marcus Rashford missed a shoot-out in the Euro 2020 final, but Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed the forward's character.

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Rashford will still 'put his hand up for penalties' despite shoot-out miss, says Solskjaer

Marcus Rashford will come back stronger following his penalty miss against Italy and will not be put off from taking spot-kicks for Manchester United, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 23-year-old was one of three England players to fail to convert from 12 yards in Sunday's Euro 2020 final shoot-out loss to Italy, clipping the post with his attempt at Wembley.

Rashford, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, have all suffered racist abuse on social media, prompting an angry response from the Football Association, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate.

A mural of Rashford in Manchester was defaced after the game, though supporters have since covered the graffiti with positive messages for the United academy product, who posted an emotional thank you message on social media on Monday.

A defaced mural of Marcus Rashford is repaired by the artist Akse P19 on July 13, 2021 in Manchester, England.

Solskjaer defends Rashford

United boss Solskjaer understands Rashford's disappointment at missing a penalty in such a crucial game and has praised the forward for stepping forward in the first place in such a high-pressure situation.

"You know the thing is when you step up to take a penalty, I think you've already won," Solskjaer told United's official website on Tuesday. "You've taken on the responsibility and I'm sure many of the players are hoping I don't want to take a penalty.

"So I think it’s a great character trait to step up and say I will deal with it, and the consequences. You might be the hero or the one who misses. That's football.  You learn from it and definitely come back stronger.

"I've not seen many people, at this club anyway, who lay down and say I'll not take a penalty anymore. I know Marcus is going to put his hand up and say he wants to take one for us."

England's fall at Wembley's Euro final

England have now won just two of their nine major tournament shoot-outs, with that 22 per cent win rate the lowest of any European national team to have been involved in three or more.

England's Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka, from left, reach out to Marcus Rashford after he missed a penalty in the penalty shootout of the Euro 2020 soccer final match between England and Italy at Wembley.

Solskjaer's words of appreciation towards Shaw

Luke Shaw had earlier given England the lead at Wembley with a volley after one minute and 57 seconds, making it the earliest goal ever scored in a European Championship final, before Leonardo Bonucci equalised to take the game the distance.

Full-back Shaw also racked up three assists, his four goal involvements across the tournament being bettered only by the Czech Republic's Patrik Schick (five) and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (six).

He also enjoyed a good campaign at club level in 2020-21 and Solskjaer is pleased to see the defender add goals and assists to his game.

"I'm so happy for Luke," Solskjaer said. "I was watching it and thinking 'what's just happened?' He started the attack and we've encouraged him to get into the last third.

"We know how technically gifted he is and skilful he is and he hit the ball very, very sweetly. 

"He keeps his eye on the ball, straight laces and it's margins again – off the post and in, not off the post and out. That's football for you. Luke deserves all the luck he can get. He's had a tremendous couple of years with us."

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 Solskjaer: "Anything can happen when it comes to penalty shoot-outs"

Solskjaer knows all too well about the disappointment of losing a shoot-out, with United having suffered heartbreak at the hands of Villarreal in May's Europa League final.

"Obviously, we know the feeling the whole of England had after the game," the Norwegian added. 

"One kick decides the whole mood. An even game, maybe Italy bossed possession a little bit, of course, but when it comes to penalty shoot-outs, anything can happen, as we know from our own last game.

"It's hard on the boys but that's football sometimes. You just have to deal with it and move on. I know the whole atmosphere in the country has been so great and, of course, it's an anti-climax. I know that."