London: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has heaped praise on Marcus Rashford after the young striker struck a brilliant goal to give his team the lead in the FA Cup quarter-final second leg against West Ham United.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal. Pic/ AFP

Rashford drew first blood for Manchester United in the 54th minute with a superb run and curling shot into the top corner. Marouane Fellaini scored the second goal as Manchester United won the away tie 2-1 on Wednesday evening to enter the semi-finals.

Rashford has scored six goals since February and his superb run of form is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season for Manchester United.

"It was a great goal. I was behind it on the bench and saw the gap in the corner and shouted 'shoot', but to do it is much more difficult. A great goal and the dribble, also. He has that quality and he can score a lot of goals," van Gaal was quoted as saying by the local media on Thursday.

"I'm happy that, despite that defeat, we can have the spirit this evening, like we showed after the defeat against Liverpool, 2-0 against our biggest enemy, but we came back and were fighting to the end (against West Ham at Old Trafford). You can't deny that my team has a lot of fighting spirit," he added.

Apart from praising Rashford's technical ability, van Gaal also asserted that the 18-year-old is mentally strong and cope with the pressure from fans and critics.

"He has no nerves, he's very focused on his work. I admire when you are so young and with so much attention now. He's scoring important goals," van Gaal said.

"He can cope with that attention and focus on the next match, and when you have criticism he can cope also. He can say: 'Yes, manager, you are right and I have to do that.' I think it's fantastic because not a lot of players can see their self-image in a match."