Manchester United left it late with a Marcus Rashford goal in the second half of extra time separating the two sides. Henrikh Mkhitaryan opened the scoring inside ten minutes, but United wasted many chances as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. missed chance after goal scoring chance. United allowed Anderlecht back into the game after Sofiane Hanni leveled the match after 30 minutes, but thanks to Rashford’s strike in the 107th minute United move onto the semifinals in the Europa League.
Paul Pogba effectively ran the game in midfield for Manchester United. A starting lineup noticeably missing Sunday’s Man of The Match in Ander Herrera, Pogba could be found tracking back to break up Anderlecht’s counter attacks time and time again. Pogba’s distribution was also on display today. His through ball to Marcus Rashford from well behind midfield was world-class, and a pass that few footballers in world football would attempt, let alone complete.
Much has been made about Pogba’s price tag, and rightfully so. However, United knew they were not getting a player who would net 30 goals a season, rather one who could control the game box to box, and Pogba did just that as his team move on to the semi-finals.
With Juan Mata out for the season, Mkhitaryan is figured to play a much larger role moving forward for United. Tonight the attacking minded midfielder was quite simply brilliant. Majestic in possession and taking on multiple defenders with success, Mkhitaryan was at the heart of almost every dangerous United attack. He was rewarded for his hard work early as he scored his 5th goal in his last six Europa League games.
Mkhitaryan always looked dangerous getting forward and put in a Man of The Match Performance. He will find himself unlucky to not win the award as he would have taken it home if it weren’t for one of his teammates dramatic late goal.
After an outstanding performance against Chelsea on Sunday where he led the attacking lines, Rashford found himself pushed back out wide with the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Rashford thrived on a night were his fellow attacking teammates, especially Ibrahimovic, failed to make an impact. While Rashford still needs to polish up his game, as he should have found the back of the net on more than a couple occasions against Anderlecht, he scored the all-important goal to push his team through. He was active throughout the game, taking on multiple defenders, and his runs in behind open up space for players like Mkhitaryan.
Rashford figures to play a more central role for United as the club awaits news on how much time Ibrahimovic will miss after injuring his knee, but Rashford’s recent form should be a good sign for United moving forward.
Rashford saved United in what looked to have been another frustrating night at Old Trafford. At this point in a winner-takes-all competition, it is less about how you play, and more about getting the goals. While it certainly wasn’t pretty, as Marouane Fellaini signaled the long ball barrage, United ended the match with a 3-2 aggregate lead. It will be United, not Anderlecht who move on to the Europa League Semi-Finals and United have Man of The Match Marcus Rashford to thank.