Report: Mkhitaryan’s away goal sees United in the driving seat against Anderlecht

Manchester United drew 1-1 in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg away to Anderlecht. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the opening goal in the match on the 36th minute, with many chances before and after coming for United. Paul Pogba was unlucky not to double United’s lead in the second half when he was through almost one-on-one with the goalkeeper, seeing his effort thwarted. Anderlecht scored late in the second half, which will make this tie an eventful one at Old Trafford in a weeks time.

Three changes were made by manager Jose Mourinho ahead of the match with Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, and Marcus Rashford returning to the team ahead of Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini, and Luke Shaw. Anderlecht started well, pressuring United from the off, which could have resulted in them finding an early goal, but the chance was miss-kicked. United then had possession for a period of time, advancing into the home sides area with Paul Pogba having an opportunity which was not the best for the visitors. United, after a purple patch, Anderlecht were the team with the chances with Marcus Rashford using his pace and ability to United’s strength, which may just work this evening.

United has a great chance inside the 17th minute of the match with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the box and Jesse Lingard hitting the post, which could have seen the Red Devils in the driving seat of the match. A minute later, Rashford had a shot on goal from distance, which was off target, unfortunately. United had a few more chances following, but just could not get the touches, or get through the defence to break the deadlock. It has been an all United affair since the early chances for the home side. United were firmly in control of the match around the half hour mark, with Anderlecht not really advancing. Henrikh Mkhitaryan put United ahead in the 36th minute of the match after Antonio Valencia crossed into the box, Rashford’s shot was parried off the keeper and the Armenian fired into the back of the net from the angle.

The first half was a strong half for United, who weathered the storm from the Belgian side in the opening minutes of the match, got to grips with the game and started firing their chances, which with Mkhitaryan’s strike, put them ahead and gave them the all-important away goal, which may not be enough with them taking the tie back to Old Trafford in a week’s time. United did well, dealt with any threats and got on with looking for the opportunities to take the game. So far so good for United, 1-0 up at the end of the first half. Mkhitaryan scored his fourth goal in the Europa League this season, scoring against Zorya Luhansk in the group stages, then one against each of Saint-Etienne, FC Rostov and now Anderlecht.

No changes at the start of the second half for either team, but in the opening stages, Michael Carrick was booked for a challenge on Frank Acheampong with the home side given a free-kick in a dangerous area, which did not threaten Sergio Romero or United’s goal. Moments later, Anderlecht were on the attack with Valencia clearing the threat twice, keeping United ahead. Youri Tielemans had a chance to get something from the game, but Valencia again did enough to thwart the effort. Anderlecht seemed more positive and resurgent in the second half, getting the better of United, until at least they get the ball back off them, clearing the threat and trying to start something of their own. In the 55th minute of the match, Mkhitaryan nearly doubled United’s lead after a good touch from Matteo Darmian.

Just before the hour, after weathering the storm again from the home side, United broke through with Mkhitaryan setting Rashford through, for the attack to be thwarted. United, despite the pressure being put on them by Anderlecht, seem to be the better side. Doubling the lead will be a big bit of insurance for Mourinho’s side with all to play for at Old Trafford in a week. In the 63rd minute of the match, Mourinho made his first change with Anthony Martial replacing Jesse Lingard. United, still 1-0 up, remained in a good position in the match with Anderlecht going through a period where fouls were their thing. Nine players on the pitch were a booking away from a suspension, which was dangerous territory for the home side.

In the 75th minute of the match, Mourinho made his second change with Marouane Fellaini replacing Marcus Rashford. Despite the Belgian’s threat at different stages in the match, United were the team in the driving seat, dealing with everything and getting forward on the counter. Anthony Martial was through on the right, passing back to the edge of the box with Fellaini driving a goalward shot, which was thwarted by the Anderlecht goalkeeper. Eight minutes from time, Pogba was through on goal, driving his shot from the angle with Ruben making the save and giving United the corner, which Fellaini tried to score from, with the goalkeeper again stopping his effort. United had this game won or seemed to at this stage of the match. Anderlecht were looking to stop that from happening, though.

Anderlecht got the goal they were looking for through Leander Dendoncker five minutes from time. It might be something of a negative for United in conceding that goal, but it was the only shot on target Anderlecht had through the entire match. United had the away goal, which will be the positive aspect of the match, and they will have to ensure they do not concede at Old Trafford next week. Mourinho made his final change in the 90th minute with Timothy Fosu-Mensah replacing Henrikh Mkhitaryan with three minutes of injury time remaining. It was unfortunate that United conceded a goal, but having that all-important away goal will be the big thing coming from this match, especially as the home side only had one shot on target throughout the match.

Goals: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 36′

Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick, Pogba, Lingard (Martial 63′), Rashford (Fellaini 75′), Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan (Fosu-Mensah 90′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Blind, Shaw; Herrera

Bookings: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 24′, Michael Carrick 47′, Timothy Fosu-Mensah 90+2′

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