Marcus Rashford scored a splendid free-kick as Manchester United edged Celta de Vigo 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League Semi-Final tie.
Manchester United dominated the first half, which failed to see any breakthrough. United missed a couple of chances through Lingard and Mkhitaryan, whose shots were easily saved by the keeper. Rashford’s brilliant shot from outside the box was well-saved by Sergio Alvarez. Celta Vigo came closest through Aspas and Guidetti, both of whom failed to hit the target from close range.
The second half was equally fought. Just when the game looked to be destined for a stalemate, came the winning goal. Rashford struck a superb free-kick which left Alvarez with no chance, awarding the visitors with a vital away goal before the second leg at Old Trafford next week.
Here are the Talking Points from the Match.
Rashford Saves United- Yet Again
We’ve seen Marcus Rashford transform into a mature and better player under Mourinho this season. He has repaid his manager’s faith by grabbing important goals in big games. After his derby goal against City last week, he scored United’s only goal tonight, a goal that carries huge importance because it was an away goal. The way it was scored- sublime free-kick- was just exquisite. Rashford has certainly shown that he can be an able deputy in the absence of Ibrahimovic.
Smalling and Jones’ United Careers Over?
Chris Smalling and Phil Jones’ return from injury gave a huge boost to the United supporters, particularly because Blind isn’t a natural centre-back. However, neither of the two managed a place in the starting eleven. Jones was ousted from the squad altogether. Smalling came on for the final minutes, but only as a necessity since Young was injured. This shows that they clearly won’t last at United for long. Why? Because Mourinho has many times questioned their commitment, desire, and mental strength. And when he has a perfect foil in Blind, Smalling and Jones can’t manage to get anywhere near him in the pecking order. They could well be out of their way this summer and have very little time to win over Mourinho again.
Celta Vigo’s Forwards will be Out to Make Amends
Celta Vigo’s forwards know United well. Iago Aspas, who has scored 24 goals this season, has played for United’s bitter rivals, Liverpool. While John Guidetti, another player on form, was formerly on the books of United’s ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City. Pione Sisto, their right winger, scored against United twice last season in the Europa League.
However, none of the star forwards failed to meet expectations, and they’ll be out to make amends at Old Trafford next week, as they certainly know that the tie is still firmly in balance.
Off-Day for Mkhitaryan and Lingard
United wingers had a night to forget as nothing came off for them. Lingard missed a couple of great chances as he failed to beat Alvarez. Mkhitaryan, on the other hand, has been United’s hero in the Europa League this season and could’ve broken a club record by scoring in five consecutive away European games. However, he too had a poor outing as he failed to beat Alvarez one-on-one after Pogba’s incisive pass had cut open the opposition defence.
Vital Away Goal
United came away with a vital away goal from the match. Celta Vigo aren’t an easy team, but having edged them would’ve made Mourinho happy. The away goal could prove vital for United in next week’s return leg at Old Trafford, and since United did not win with a good enough margin, they cannot play a full strength team at Arsenal, as they would have the return leg in mind. Mourinho certainly would’ve desired a bigger margin win, but nonetheless, they do an away goal and an aggregate lead.