Marcus Rashford’s splendid free kick secured United another vital away win in the Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo.
It was the home side that started brighter as Daniel Wass gave the Red Devils a scare early on but, United built momentum and edged the first half. For United, it was same old same old as they squandered a host of chances. Rashford had a rasping effort from long range saved by Celta’s Sergio. Rashford made space for himself 20 yards out and fired in only to see Sergio made a smart save. United had two glorious opportunities before the interval. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a shot saved by Sergio after being sent through by the returning Paul Pogba.
Lingard was the next to waste a chance, as his tame shot lacked the placement required to beat Sergio. Both clubs headed to the breather level at 0-0.
The second half saw Celta begin strongly. Former Liverpool man Iago Aspas flicked a header wide of the mark but had Sergio Romero scrambling across his goal line. Soon, Romero had to tip over a deflected shot from Pione Sisto. The shot dipped horribly and Romero had to be alert to keep it from sneaking in beneath the crossbar.
But it was United who broke the deadlock 23 minutes from time as Rashford was brought down by Hugo Mallo 20 yards away from goal. Rashford took the free kick himself and used Blind’s dummy run to great effect as he beat the goalkeeper at his side of the goal. Mourinho would be worried by the fact Rashford limped out with 10 minutes remaining. Tempers threatened to boil over as Rashford took the best part of two minutes to leave the playing area.
Shortly after Rashford’s goal, Iago Aspas played a quick one-two at the edge of the box and another before firing his volley wide of Romero’s goal. But it was as close as Celta came to equalize as United held on for a crucial away win. Lingard had a good chance to double United’s lead as he fired a half-volley wide from just 15 yards out.
Fellaini, who was booked earlier on, could have been sent for late on but the referee chose otherwise. Pogba, however, was not lucky as he was booked for wasting time. On his return from injury, Pogba had an excellent evening. Bailly was superb as usual as he started his 10th consecutive game for United
United suffered another injury as Ashley Young, only in the pitch for 11 minutes came off for the returning Chris Smalling three minutes before the 90th-minute mark. Mourinho would have been mightily pleased with the result as his side are heavy odds-on favorites to progress to the final in Stockholm in three weeks’ time.