Man United scraped through to the Europa League semi-final, with a Marcus Rashford extra-time goal seeing off Anderlecht.
It was a huge night for Old Trafford, with the Europa League becoming a top priority with their position outside the top four in the Premier League. The Europa League gives an automatic spot in the Champions League, which United should be in every year.
United took the lead on the night in the 10th minute through Henrick Mkhitaryan. He drilled in a low finish to put United ahead in the tie. Most people would’ve expected them to ease to victory after that. But, Anderlecht were still in the game and they restored parity in the 32nd minute through Sofiane Hanni, who scrambled home an equaliser.
United were their own worst enemies in this game, missing chance after chance. But, Anderlecht did have chances, especially in the first half, and could’ve been in front at the break. In the first half, Rashford had a shot well saved and so did Luke Shaw, who had a very good game.
In the second half, the bad finishing continued, with countless good chances being wasted. It was also looking like Anderlecht were going to score a sucker-punch which would break United hearts. If they would’ve lost, they would’ve only had themseleves to blame.
Anderlecht were threatening on the counter-attacks, which made the sucker-punch look even more likely. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was possibly the main culprit of the shocking finishing. Even though he has scored a lot of goals this season, he has missed a lot as well. But, Ibrahimovic got injured right at the end of normal time and had to go off for Anthony Martial.
It showed United were chasing the game when they brought on Marouane Fellaini. He was an aerial threat, winning headers in the opposition box but not managing to score. All these misses weren’t just decent chances, some of them were from point blank range, with Ibrahimovic missing a couple of them.
The game looked like it was heading for a penalty shootout but, Rashford, who is starting to find his form of last season, finally got the goal United had been craving to the whole game. It was a brilliant turn and finish from Fellaini’s knockdown in the 107th minute.
Rashford had also been one of the main culprits for the shocking finishing, alongside Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. The shocking finishing has been the flaw in United all season, but this time it wasn’t costly to the final result.
United have taken another step towards securing the place in next season’s Champions League, but at a cost. Marcos Rojo also got injured, and it looked a similar one to Ibrahimovic. They both have suffered crucial knee-ligament injuries and are out for the season.
They are both very costly, with Ibrahimovic the top scorer and Rojo having a very good season. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are also out injured. United will have to battle through the rest of the season with several squad members injured.
Mourinho was appointed to bring back Champions League football to Old Trafford, and at the moment it looks likely that it will happen. But, he will know his side must discover the killer touch against better sides they will play.
In the semi-final, United will play Celta Vigo. The first leg will be played away on the 4 May and the second leg will be at Old Trafford on the 11 May. Hopefully United will be able to make it through to the final.
Next up for United is a trip to Burnley, who are very strong at home, on Sunday, the 23 April. Hopefully they can carry on their winning form.