Memphis Depay put in his best performance in a Manchester United shirt with a man-of-the-match display during the Red Devils' 5-1 demolition of Danish club FC Midtjylland in the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday (25 February). It was a must-win clash for the Old Trafford club after their first leg 2-1 loss at the MCH Arena. They will find out their opponents in the last 16 when the draw takes place on Friday (26 February) at Nyon, Switzerland.
The evening did not start off in the best fashion for the 20-times English champions. Firstly, Anthony Martial was ruled out with a hamstring injury just before the start of the game, with 18-year-old Marcus Rashford being drafted into the starting XI in place of the Frenchman for his debut with the senior team. Secondly, the Danish side took the lead after a goal from Sisto in the 27th minute to put the Red Devils under more pressure. But the lead lasted for just five minutes as an own goal from defender Nikolay Bodurov brought them level going into the break.
The second-half, however, was all United from start to finish, with Depay and Rashford the stars of the show. The former tormented the defence throughout the half with his trickery and direct approach, while the latter had a dream debut with two goals within the space of 12 minutes to make it a happy night for Louis van Gaal, who heaped praise on his compatriot and hopes he can continue his new-found form when they take on Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday (28 February).
Depay had taken the responsibility for his failure to meet expectations following his £25m ($36m) move from PSV Eindhoven in the summer, while making it clear that he was ready to work hard to reach his full potential. The Dutch manager hopes that this is a turning point for the talented 22-year-old attacker ahead of an important clash against the Gunners, which the former PSV star could start owing to injuries to Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney and Will Keane.
"I'm very happy for him. You need these kind of matches and he played fantastic. He can play fantastic so maybe it's a turning point. You never know. I hope it is, with all my heart but we have to wait and see. Arsenal is another level," Van Gaal said, as quoted on United's official site.
"I think he was fantastic. Of course, everyone has seen that. It was also spectacular, I think, to see and watch him but I hope he shall show it also against Arsenal. As I say, it's another level but I think I'm very confident he shall do that," the Dutchman added.