Man United narrowly beat FC Rostov in the second leg of the Europa League last 16 to go through to the quarter-finals 2-1 on aggregate.
United dominated the match, which you would expect, but couldn’t break through a packed Rostov defence and didn’t really threaten. Henrick Mkhitaryan shot wide when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Zlatan Ibrahimovic came even closer to scoring, hitting the post twice. The first was from close range, and the other was when he cut in and fired against the upright.
It looked as though United were going to have to rely on the away goal they scored in Russia to scrape through. The night got even more frustrating when Paul Pogba, their main midfielder had to go off because of a hamstring injury. He will miss Sunday’s trip to Middlesbrough. Although he has come in for a lot of criticism, Jose Mourinho sees him as a crucial part of this team. It looked like it was going to get worse as Marouane Fellaini came on, but for once he actually played quite well.
Daley Blind also had to go off because of injury after an hour’s play, with him also missing the game on Sunday. Rostov did have some chances, with Sardar Azmoun forcing a save out of Sergio Romero. But, the goal came from a fast break with 70 minutes gone. The ball came out to Mkhitaryan on the right wing, he crossed the ball towards Ibrahimovic, whose flick fell to Juan Mata to smash into the roof of the net.
Romero had to make another save from Aleksandr Bukharov’s flicked header. A Rostov goal would’ve taken it to extra time. They nearly scored with the last kick of the game, but Romero thumped away Christian Noboa’s free-kick which was going into the top corner.
Because of the fact that winning the Europa League means a guaranteed spot in the Champions League, United should take this tournament seriously as they are not in the top four at the moment. They would not have to rely solely on finishing in the top four. Mourinho played a strong team for this game, looking to finish off the tie.
United have drawn Anderlecht in the quarter-final, playing away in the first leg. They will need to improve if they are to go all the way, with better teams than Rostov waiting.
Next up, United are playing Middlesbrough away on Sunday, the 19 March. Hopefully they can get back to winning ways in the league.