Man United survived a huge late scare to beat Celta Vigo and edge through to the Europa League final, where they will play Ajax.
After winning the first leg, United got off to the perfect start in the 17th minute. Marouane Fellaini headed home Marcus Rashford’s fantastic cross. That goal settled the nerves of the home fans, with a bit of breathing space over Celta Vigo.
Celta had made an attacking, so that goal was exactly what United needed. Apart from the goal, United created very few chances as they sought to frustrate Celta with an organised defensive performance.
Celta had the better chances, with Pione Sisto, Daniel Wass and John Guidetti all threatening. Henrick Mkhitaryan, who had a very good game had a shot, but he fired it high and wide.
In the second half, Celta continued to have efforts on goal. Rashford came close to scoring after going past a defender but, the keeper came out and saved his shot. Mkhitaryan and Fellaini also forced saves from the keeper.
It looked like United were going to comfortably win the game, but then in the 85th minute Facundo Roncaglia made it interesting by heading in following a corner. If they would’ve scored one more goal after that goal, United would’ve been out on away goals.
That goal increased the tension and it led to a scuffle with almost all the players involved. United’s Eric Bailly was sent off for a swipe on John Guidetti, although Guidetti over-exaggerated it by falling on the floor and holding his face. Celta’s Roncaglia was also sent off for retaliating.
With six minutes of added time, Celta fancied their chances and it was a nervy time for United. Celta did create one chance, and it was a brilliant chance for Guidetti, but he scuffed his shot when it was basically a tap in.
Guidetti, who used to play for Man City, had said before the match that he wanted to make Manchester blue again. He had the perfect chance to knock out the red half of Manchester, but he somehow missed the chance. It would’ve also put Celta through to their first ever European final.
It was the last kick of the game and United hung on. United have never lost a European semi-final after winning he first leg and this victory extends that run. United greeted the final whistle with relief, while Celta slumped to their knees and Guidetti was in tears.
The aggregate victory took United a step closer the their first Europa League triumph and automatic qualification for the Champions League. Jose Mourinho has seemingly given up on finishing in the top four, with United four points off Man City in fourth.
He showed this in their 2-0 loss to Arsenal, as he made eight changes for his team, with the Europa League his priority. His season will be deemed as a success if they win the Europa League, but a failure if they don’t.
Mourinho’s ambitions were high when he first arrived, hoping to get top four at least and to end the bad times that have been since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. His decision to prioritise the Europa League will only be justified if they manage to beat Ajax, who edged past Lyon 5-4, in the final.
United have won 65 trophies in their illustrious history, but the Europa League is not in the trophy cabinet yet. They will have a really big chance of adding it on May 24, when they will face Ajax in the final in Stockholm.
United’s next game is at Tottenham on Sunday the 14 May. It will be a very tough game and even tougher if Mourinho once again rotates his team.