Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has said he gave Marcus Rashford his blessing to take the winning penalty against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, despite being on a hattrick himself at the time.
Two strikes from Lukaku had put United on the verge of an historic come-back in Paris, with PSG holding on to a slender 3-2 aggregate advantage having won 2-0 at Old Trafford, and when VAR controversially awarded United a penalty in stoppage time, many expected the Belgian to face Gianluigi Buffon for his third of the night.
It was Rashford, however, who stepped up to hammer it home and book a quarter-final place for United, however, and Lukaku explained after the match that he told the 21-year-old it was 'his time' to shine before the decisive spot-kick.
"I was happy that he scored. He came to me and wanted to shoot," he told beIn Sports, via The Mirror. "I said 'man, this is your time. Do it for yourself and us'."
Incidentally, it was the second time in a week Lukaku had passed up the opportunity for a hattrick, as the striker allowed Paul Pogba to take - and subsequently miss - a late penalty to make it 4-2 against Southampton at the weekend.
It would ultimately prove inconsequential, however, as a United side, again featuring a front two of Lukaku and Rashford, were able to see out the victory.
Fitting the two into the side in tandem had previously been a problem for interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the Norwegian has adapted his tactics to much success to get them firing together in recent matches - something Lukaku says he is grateful for.
"I like it more because Marcus and I, we are dynamic, we have a lot of running in us and we score goals," he added.
"It has been nice to play him. When we played against Southampton, he made it so much easier for me and I scored two goals."
Source : 90min