Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game as Manchester United defeated Russian side Rostov to advance to the Quarter Finals of the Europa League with an aggregate score of 2-1.
Rostov squandered possession in the midfield only for Mkhitaryan to pounce upon it and provide a great cross, which was flicked by Ibrahimovic into the path of Mata, who finished off the counter attack without making any mistake.
The first half was heavily dominated by the home team, and they were unlucky to have not been able to convert their chances, with Ibrahimovic coming closest to the goal, denied by the post, while Pogba’s effort just before half time was saved by the Rostov keeper.
The second half was no different, however, Rostov also had a few daunting efforts on target. The final score, however, was flattering for the visitors, as United could have easily scored a few more goals.
Here are the Talking Points from United’s Last 16 win over Rostov
Everyone was left baffled when the teams were announced, as Rostov named just four men on their bench, which included Bukharov, the scorer from the first leg. This was clearly a consequence of the injuries and suspensions for the travelling side, and the frail attitude of Rostov players was evident in the beginning minutes of the match, as their players were left on the ground after a soft challenge on more than one occasion, which clearly upset Mourinho at one point.
United still cannot finish off chances
The major problem for Mourinho’s side this season has been their inability to finish off their chances, and thus, finish off the games. This match was no different, as United could’ve easily put 4 or 5 past the Rostov keeper. A lot of chances were created by the home side, but they always lacked the final pass. Mourinho needs to resolve this issue as effectively as possible if he is to make his first season at the club somewhat memorable.
Mata-Micki in absence of Martial-Rashford
Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a good game on either side of Ibrahimovic. Their combination was so good at times that spectators were forced off their seats in anticipation of a goal. Even though they could not score more, they have certainly shown that their combination is competitive to, if not equal to, Martial and Rashford’s wing combination. Martial and Rashford need to stay in form, otherwise there are two more than capable players waiting in the ‘wings’.
Mourinho Smelling the Title
Mourinho had earlier stated that progressing to the Quarter Final stage would be enough for them to start ‘smelling the title’. Well, they’ve progressed now, and it remains to be seen what effects this win has on the team after a frustrating week which included a defeat to Mourinho’s former club in the FA Cup. United supporters are now desperately waiting for the Europa League draw to be held on March 17 so as to know which opponent they would be facing next. They would definitely want to avoid high-flying Lyon and Schalke in the Quarter Finals.