Celta Vigo 0-1 Manchester United


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A wonderful Marcus Rashford free-kick gave Man United a valuable lead going into the second leg at Old Trafford.

United dominated throughout and fully deserved the win but, they could’ve been more goals ahead with the amount of chances that they missed. In the first half, they were thwarted several times in the first half by an inspired Sergio Alvarez in the Celta Vigo.

Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Henrick Mkhitaryan all spurned very good chances, which were saved by Alvarez. Rashford’ said shot was heading for the top corner but for Alvarez, with Alvarez also thwarting a surging Mkhitaryan and pushing away a Lingard prod from eight yards out. 

Mkhitaryan could’ve had a penalty, but the ref didn’t give it because he didn’t go down. This further underlines the fact that referee’s don’t give penalties unless you go down, even though the foul disrupts their run.

In the second half, even though United were dominating, there was still the threat of Celta Vigo scoring. They did nearly score through Pione Sisto, whose shot was well saved by Sergio Romero. Romero’s been playing pretty much every game in the Europa League this season. Celta had some efforts in the first half but, Daniel Wass missed a couple of chances.

The breakthrough came in the 67th minute through Rashford. Hugo Mallo fouled Rashford outside the box. He fired spectacularly into the far left corner, after Daley Blind had made a decoy run. Alvarez had finally been beaten in the Celta goal with a piece of excellence from the youngster.

That goal puts United as strong favourites to progress to the final in Stockholm against either Ajax or Lyon. It is a competition that they have never won. Rashford had scored the extra-time winner in the previous round and in this game he scored the goal to put United in firm control.

This was a game where some of the United players who had been injured were back in the squad. With Eric Bailly limping out of the game against Swansea on Sunday, United looked to be short of players at the back, with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo also on the sidelines. Luke Shaw was also injured in that game.

But, Bailly was fit enough to start in this game, alongside Paul Pogba, who had recovered from a muscle strain. Also, Smalling, who has been out since March 19, was on the bench. Even though a couple of players had returned, another player got injured, with Ashley Young having to go off only 11 minutes after coming on as a substiute.

This was United’s 58th game of this season. They could play six more matches if they make it all the way to Stockholm, and they may have to get there if they want to make next season’s Champions League. They are outside the Premier League’s top four at the moment, a point behind fourth-placed Manchester City and four off third-placed Liverpool.

After this game it doesn’t look like it will be much of a challenge to reach the final, with Celta reflecting their 11th place in La Liga. The second leg is Thursday, the 11 May.

Next up in the league is a trip to Arsenal on Sunday, the 7 May. They must win if they want any chance of making to top four.

Cardiff City 0-2 Newcastle


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Newcastle kept up their hopes of winning the Championship title by overcoming Cardiff at the Cardiff City Stadium.

There wasn’t much action in the first half but, Aron Gunnarsson did have a low shot from the edge of the box saved by Rob Elliot in the Newcastle goal. The Bluebirds did have the ball in the goal through Sean Morrison, but it was disallowed for a foul on Ciaran Clark by the cente-back.

Just after that Kareem Harris had to go off because of an injury, which is a shame because he was starting to get the better of Newcastle right-back DeAndre Yedlin. The only time Newcastle got close to the goal was when Junior Hoilett failed to stay on Yedlin, allowing Mohamed Diame and, but Allan McGregor kept out his effort from a tight angle.

City should’ve gone in front just after the break, but Craig Noone failed to hit the target after Joe Bennett’s cross had been headed back to him by a Newcastle player. It was a really good chance as he was free at the back post, but somehow managing to put it wide.

About five minutes after that chance, Morrison needlessly pushed over Christian Atsu just outside the box. Atsu beautifully dunked the ball over the ball into the top corner, with McGregor unmoved. It was a fantastic goal.

The away side started to seize control of the game and the away fans were now in full voice. They doubled their lead about 10 minutes later through Isaac Hayden. Cardiff have him too much time to look up and hit a swerving shot past the unmoved McGregor into the corner from 20 yards out.

City should’ve got the back in the game about five minutes later but Bruno Manga headed over a few yards from the goal. That was the chance Cardiff needed to give themselves a chance. Kenneth Zohore, who signed a new contract with the club just before kick-off, also headed over form a very good position. 

Substiute Aleksandar Mitrovix forced a good save from McGregor as Newcastle looked to extend their lead. Noone had another very good chance to score, but somehow skied the ball when Zohore found him at the back post. It when miles over the bar.

Peter Whittingham just after the hour mark in what could be his last home game for the club. He’s been a great servant to the club and deserved the applause he got when he left the field to be replace by Anthony Pilkington.

Newcastle, who were roared on by 4,000 very loud away fans, are now only one point behind Brighton. Although they are already promoted, they still have a slim chance of winning the title if Brighton slip up. The Bluebirds remain in 13th place in he league, as they lost only their second home league game of 2017.

Next up for City is their last game of the season at Huddersfield. Hopefully they can finish the season on a high.

Manchester City 0-0 Manchester United


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Man United held on for a draw at the Etihad, after Marouane Fellaini had stupidly got sent off to put them down to 10 men.

He was sent off towards the end of the match for head butting Sergio Aguero, who cleverly got Fellaini sent off. Because of the sending off, Mourinho will be the happier of the two managers with the result. He had to park the bus after the sending off.

Aguero should’ve scored inside 10 minutes, but his close range shot hit the post. City dominated the possession throughout the match, with United only having 30.8% possession – their lowest figure in a Premier League game since Opta started recording possession in 2003-04.

United spent much of the game on the back foot but, did have a threat in attack with the pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. But, without the creativity of Paul Pogba, the attack didn’t get the right service and Rashford much of the game putting pressure on the opposition players.

City were mostly limited to long-range efforts, which didn’t really threaten David de Gea in goal. United did nearly go in front in the first half, when Claudio Bravo failed to deal with a cross and it came to Henrick Mkhitaryan, whose shot was smothered the Bravo.

The reason City were limited to mainly the long shots was because United were resilient, organised and defiant, with Michael Carrick providing the solid platform in front in the defence. They showed all the qualities that have ensured they have remained unbeaten in the Premier League since October to battle their way to a point here.

In the second half, City did come really close through Nicolas Otamendi, whose header from a corner was blocked by Eric Bailly. Pep Guardiola will be frustrated that with all the possession City couldn’t break down a stubborn United defence. 

The biggest action of the game was in the 84th minute. Fellaini had just got a yellow card for a foul on Aguero, but then just moments later he chased after Aguero and fouled him again. I don’t think he would’ve got a second yellow card, but then he head butted Aguero who was in his face, leaving the referee with no option but to send him off. He was refusing to leave the field, so his team-mates had to encourage him to go.

City thought they had scored in stoppage time through substitute Gabriel Jesus but, it was correctly ruled out for offside. Aguero could’ve scored in the last few seconds but, somehow smashed the ball miles wide after Kevin de Bruyne’s fantastic cross.

I think the best thing that came out of this game for United was that Fellaini is going to be suspended for the next three games. He makes the team worse because he can’t play the ball well in midfield and is a dirty player.

United remain in fifth place, one point off fourth-placed City and two points off third-placed Liverpool, with a game in hand on Liverpool. They are still right in the hunt for a top four position but, they could still get Champions League football through winning the Europa League, with the first leg of the semi-final on Thursday.

Next up for United is a home game against Swansea on Sunday, the 30 April. Hopefully they can get back to winning form.

Burnley 0-2 Manchester United


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Man United kept up their chase for the top four in the Premier League with a comfortable win over Burnley.

United started brightly, and nearly went in front in the the first ten minutes but, Wayne Rooney’s shot from very close range was saved by Tom Heaton. Also, with more than ten minutes played, Marouane Fellaini had a header well saved in the bottom corner by Heaton.

Michael Keane had a decent chance for Burnley, but he headed wide from a good position. Straight after that, United went the other side of the pitch and scored. Wayne Rooney sent Anthony Martial on his way, who played it to Ander Herrera, and after Herrera laid it off, Martial swept it home past Heaton to put United in front.

It was Martial’s 25th goal for United, which means that they have to pay an extra £8.5m to his former club, Monaco because of a clause in his contract. He hasn’t had as good a season as last year, but he showed glimpses of last year in this game.

In the 39th minute, United doubled their lead through Rooney. Paul Pogba played in Martial, who had a shot well blocked by Heaton, but it came through to Rooney, who scuffed home the second of the match. It was his first goal since January, when he had become United’s all-time top scorer, but he has had to wait three months for number 251.

Burnley’s home form has been very good this season, with 32 points out of their 36 points won at home. But, in this game they struggled to cope with United, and their only real chance was at the end of the first half, when Andre Gray had a shot well blocked by Eric Bailly inside the box. From the resulting corner, Gray tried an acrobatic effort, but ended up missing the ball.

The second was comfortable for United, with hardly any chances for either teams, but United never looked in danger of conceding. The only time Burnley looked threatening was in the last 10 minutes when Keane headed across goal from a free-kick and substitute Daniel Agyei placed his right-footed snap-shot past the post.

Because of the season-ending injuries to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo, Mourinho was forced to shuffle his team around once again. He has to start Daley Blind at centre-back, partnering Bailly but, Blind looked assured and composed throughout the game.

He also had brought in Rooney and Martial for Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford. Mourinho must’ve had one eye on the Manchester derby on Thursday and the fact that Rashford has played a lot recently, so must be a bit jaded. Rooney completed a full 90 minutes for the first time since September and enjoyed a productive partnership with Martial.

United remain in fifth place, one point off Man City on Thursday, with the game on Thursday looking huge for either team’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s Champions League. Burnley are now sitting in 16th place, five points above the relegation zone. They have only won once in 11 matches and have not one away all season.

Next up for United is the Manchester derby on Thursday, the 27 April. Hopefully they can get the win to move into the top four.

Wigan Athletic 0-0 Cardiff City


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Cardiff played out a goalless draw at second-bottom Wigan.

The Bluebirds hardly had any chances all game. They had nothing to fight for as they far away from the play-off places and the relegation zone. Wigan on the other hand, will go down if Birmingham avoid defeat at Aston Villa on Monday. Their hopes of remaining in the Championship are out of their hands.

In the first half, both sides struggled to get a foothold in the match and the first shot on target didn’t come until well after the half hour mark. Michael Jacobs did have a shot for Wigan which went well wide. Reece Burke also had an effort for Wigan, but his shot went narrowly wide to the left. 

Wigan almost broke the deadlock when Craig Morgan fired over the bar from close range. Cardiff did have a decent chance in the first half, but Craig Noone hit the bar from a difficult angle. Both teams struggled to carve out clear-cut chances.

In the second half, substitute Nick Powell could have given the hosts the lead, but substitute Rickie Lambert was on hand to block the shot. City also came close to going in front, but from Rickie Lambert’s header from a Noone cross, Bruno Manga was unable to get to the ball to tap it in.

Wigan look like a team heading for League One. They are six points from safety with only six more points to play for. They have been unable to recover from a poor start which saw them with five points from the first nine games. They have the second-worst goal scoring record in the league, with 39 goals in 43 games.

Cardiff remain in 13th place, with the rest of this season planning for next season. But, their winless away run stretches to six games. The rest of the games will give Neil Warnock a chance to see who he wants to keep and who he’s going to get rid of in the summer.

Next up for the Bluebirds they are at home to second-placed Newcastle on Friday, the 28 April. Hopefully they can get back to winning ways against a tough opposition.

Manchester United 2-1 Anderlecht (AGG 3-2)


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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.

Cardiff City 1-0 Nottingham Forest


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Aron Gunnarsson’s long-range effort won the game for Cardiff against relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.

There wasn’t much action in a cagey first half, but Peter Whittingham did hit the crossbar with a thunderous effort from 30 yards out. Anthony Pilkington came close, but his shot was blocked. Forest did came fairly close, but Mustapha Carayol’s powerful long-range effort went just wide. The biggest entertainment seemed to be in the dugout, where Cardiff assistant manager had to be kept apart from his opposite number in the Forest dugout after frayed tempers almost led to a scuffle.

In the second, Forest had some renewed attacking intent, with Carayol seeming to be their main threat, with his direct and quick running. Kenneth Zohore nearly took the lead with a left-foot attempt from just outside the box which went narrowly wide.

Carayol forced a good save from Allan McGregor in the Cardiff goal, as Forest fancied their chances. But, in the 70th minute, City took the lead through Gunnarsson. After some good play by Kadeem Harris on the left-wing, his cross was only half cleared, with the ball coming out to Gunnarsson who fired a fantastic strike, swerving away from Jordan Smith and into the far corner.

Forest did have their big chance with about five minutes to go, but substitute Apsotolos Vellios headed against the bar from very close range. The Bluebirds held on to win their third successive home win and climb up to 13th in the league. Forest drop to 21st, one point above the bottom three.

Next up for the Bluebirds is a trip to Wigan Athletic. Hopefully they can carry on the winning run.

Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea


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A resurgent Man United deservedly beat leaders Chelsea, whose lead at the top was cut to four points.

United started strongly straight away. Marcus Rashford wasted a good chance with five minutes gone but, he did open the scoring in the seventh minute. Ander Herrera played a perfectly timed ball through to him and he finished coolly past Asmir Begovic in goal, who was replacing the injured Thibaut Courtois. There was a suspicion of handball by Herrera when he intercepted Nemanja Matic’s pass but United won’t care.

Rashford was paired up front with Jesse Lingard, with the jaded Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench, and they did a fantastic performance threatening the defence with fantastic energy. It was a fantastic tactical move by Jose Mourinho.

Antonio Conte will feel frustrated that he didn’t have his first choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, as he was injured and Asmir Begovic had to cover him. Marcos Alonso was also injured in the warm-up, with Kurt Zouma having to replace him. Conte will feel that luck was against him.

The real masterstroke was to deploy Herrera to man-mark Eden Hazard throughout. He covered his every move and didn’t give him a sniff throughout the whole game. Hazard didn’t affect the game in anyway, and it shows that if some of the Chelsea players don’t perform, Chelsea struggle badly. Diego Costa also didn’t affect the game. He was more intent on fighting with Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly than concentrating on the game. He was back to his bad old ways.

Conte had complained in the quarter-final of the FA Cup that United players had targeted Hazard, but this time he was targeted fairly and don’t have a kick all afternoon. And it was Herrera who escaped Hazard’s attention to fire in form outside the box, albeit via a deflection from Zouma which wrongfooted Begovic.

Even N’Golo Kante, who doesn’t seem to have a bad game, was for once not as effective as usual. It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for Chelsea. Although they will feel that they got the rough ends of the refereeing decisions.

In the end United were dominant and fully deserved the victory against a Chelsea side, who only lost for the fifth time this season. After two losses already this season against his old team, Mourinho finally beat them, with one of their best performances this season.

This loss for Chelsea has blown the tile race wide open, with Tottenham only four points behind with six games to go and with a better goal difference. Chelsea have a more favourable run-in, but with Tottenham’a form at the moment, I wouldn’t bet against them catching Chelsea.

Chelsea did look to be strolling to the title, but after a loss to a Crystal Palace at home and a this loss, Spurs will fancy their chances. Tottenham have won seven successive league win for the first time since 1967 with a 4-0 home win over Bournemouth on Saturday.

United have moved above Everton into fifth, four points off fourth-placed Man City, with a game in hand. Next up is the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final at home to Anderlecht. Next up in the league is a trip to Burnley on Sunday the 23 April.

Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Cardiff City


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A late goal by Fernando Forestieri won the game for Sheffield Wednesday against Cardiff.

Sheffield Wednesday came closest in a goalless first half, with Allan McGregor pushing Ross Wallace’s shot onto the post. Cardiff did come close though, with Joe Ralls having a shot from distance spilt by Keiren Westwood, but Kenneth Zohore failed to capitalise. Ralls had another shot which Westwood again fumbled, but Cardiff failed to capitalise again.

In the second half, from an Aron Gunnarsson long throw, Ralls headed it on and Greg Halford just failed to get on the end of it. Wednesday came close to opening the scoring, with a Jack Hunt cross hitting Bruno Manga, but hitting the post.

City were frustrating their opponents, with Wednesday looking the team most likely to score. The pressure finally told, when two substitutes combined with Forestieri heading in after Jordan Rhodes’ shot was saved by McGregor. It kept them in the play-offs ahead of Fulham.

Cardiff remain in 14th, with nothing to fight for now, and the rest of the games this season are preparation for next season. Wednesday held on to sixth spot in the league.

Next up for the Bluebirds they are at home to Nottingham Forest next Monday, the 17 April. Hopefully they can get back to winning ways.

Anderlecht 1-1 Manchester United


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A late goal denied Man United a win at Anderlecht, in a game where they were comfortable for the majority of the match.

Anderlecht did start brightly, with Frank Acheampong having a couple of efforts blocked. But, apart from that United looked fully focused on the task of putting themselves in a good position to go through to the semi-finals, and another step towards automatic qualification for the Champions League going into the second leg at home next week.

United did nearly go in front, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shot from point blank range was saved by Martinez in the Anderlecht goal. From the rebound, Jesse Lingard hit the post. That was the closest either team had come to scoring. United were having shots, but they were mostly outside the box and not threatening the opposition, apart from a Marcus Rashford dipping shot from distance which narrowly missed.

United do take the lead in the 36th minute. Antonio Valencia crossed in for Rashford, whose decent shot was spilled out by Martinez, allowing Henrick Mkhitaryan to tap in from a tight angle. It looked an easy chance, but it was tough with the tight angle and it was on his weak foot.

Even though United were looking comfortable, there was always the slight chance that the one goal wasn’t going to be enough. Rashford was always threatening from the left with his pace. But, Ibrahimovic had a poor game, giving away the ball easily and not threatening up front.

But, Rashford got subbed off with fifteen minutes to go and Marouane Fellaini, which lost United the pace on the attack. His goal return has been questioned by Jose Mourinho, but he put in a very good performance in this game.

United should’ve finished the game off in the last 10 minutes, but Paul Pogba shot was saved by the shins of the keeper when one-on-one with him. From the resulting corner, Fellaini headed straight at the goalkeeper. United were always vulnerable to the sucker punch from 21 year old Leander Dendoncker. 

And, in the 86th minute, Ivan Obradovic crossed in for Dendoncker, who got ahead of Matteo Darmian to head home with his side’s first effort on target. It was so frustrating for United, who had subdued the hosts until one defensive lapse, which allowed the equaliser.

Mourinho was clearly frustrated with his side’s poor finishing, even though it was a decent performance. It was another poor result away in the Europa League, with poor results against Feyenoord, Fenebahce and Rostov. The complexion of this tie was changed by the the late goal.

Because of United’s position in the league being outside the top four, Mourinho has been forced to take this tournament seriously. They will have to concentrate in the second leg and make sure they get the win and make it through to the next round. But, they will still fancy their chances of making it through.

The second leg is to be played next Thursday, the 20 April. Hopefully United can progress to the next round.