Rashford’s free-kick 23 minutes from time flew past Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez, who had earlier kept United at bay with a string of fine saves parrying shots from Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jese Lingard.
“The free kick is work,” said Mourinho after the 1-0 victory. “Rashford works every day. Sometimes the training session has finished and he keeps working with my assistant. The free kick is fantastic and I don’t think the goalkeeper has any chance because the shot is very fast.”
As well as singling out the 19-year-old England international, Mourinho hailed a coherent team performance in Spain and United will be favourites to press home their advantage in the second leg at Old Trafford on 11 May.
Before then United will be in action in the English Premier League as they continue their quest for a top four finish which gives access to next season’s Champions League.
Mourinho’s men are fifth on 65 points and they travel to north London to play Arsenal who are sixth with 60 points. Victory for the visitors would effectlively kill off Arsenal’s chances of Champions League football next season after enjoying 17 consecutive years in the competition.
With the winners of the Europa League gainng a place in the group stages of the Champions League, Mourinho said he would assess the fitness of his squad and, if necessary, rest key players for the trip to Arsenal ahead of the Europa League second leg.
It could be a wise precaution. Celta have had solid results in away games in this season’s competition. They also eliminated Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey in Spain by winning at the Santiago Bernabeu in January.
“The Man United fans expect more than sitting back and taking a 0-0 draw, so I think we are going to have even more space in the second leg,” said Celta striker John Guidetti.
“Last year we scored three goals away against Atletico Madrid to go through in the Copa del Rey and their defence is very strong, and this year we won 2-1 at the Bernabeu and they are almost in the Champions League final. We know we can do it.”