Mata on the possibility of winning the Europa League: “We know it is a good chance”


Manchester United beat FC Rostov in the second leg of the round of 16 1-0 at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League, winning 2-1 on aggregate. United now find themselves in the quarter-final stages of the competition for the first time, getting at least a round further than last season when they were beaten at this stage by finalists Liverpool. Jose Mourinho’s side has the lion’s share of possession and chances but found it hard to break down the Russian side, who had every man utilised in their own half for much of the game. United have many chances to find a goal, which would put them in the driving seat for the match but that did not come until the 70th minute with Juan Mata connection to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic backheel to bury the ball into the back of the net. United could have been back to square one more than once with Sergio Romero making some world-class saves to defy Rostov, making one at the death after Phil Jones gave away a free-kick deep in injury time. United will find out who they will face in the quarter-final in tomorrow’s draw, which will add two more matches to the already busy April fixture list.

Former Manchester United player and MUTV pundit Paddy Crerand spoke after the 1-0, 2-1 aggregate victory over Rostov praising Sergio Romero and suggesting that Paul Pogba could be out for a fortnight, meaning he could be back after the international break. On Romero, Crerand said:

“The goalkeeper was fantastic, he played exceptionally well over there and he has been tremendous whenever he has played. Rostov made it tough for United. We didn’t know much about them and they must be pleased with how they played over the two legs. But United clearly deserved to go through.”

Speaking about Pogba, the European Cup winner from 1968 said:

“The injury that Pogba has, it looks like he could be out for a few weeks. The problem for United is the injuries that we have got and now we have a difficult game against Middlesbrough coming up on Sunday, but at least we got the job done tonight.”

The goalscorer and match winner Juan Mata spoke to BT Sport about the team doing their job and ensuring Manchester United were into the quarter-final draw on Friday, saying:

“It was a matter of finishing our chances again,” Mata said on BT Sport. “For the first half, for some moments we played great football, we created some nice chances but we couldn’t finish. We need to score. If not it is difficult to get through. It is important that we kept our goal, we have done our job and we are happy to win.”

Mata also stated that United pushed Rostov until the bitter end of the match, which could have resulted in extra time being played if Sergio Romero did not thwart the shot from the free-kick given away by Phil Jones. Mata said:

“They are a team that push until the end and they played with a difficult system to play against, but I think we adapted well to their football and we played at Old Trafford, so we have to push from the beginning and that’s what we did.”

The captain for the evening Chris Smalling praise the Argentinian keeper, who has been an excellent stand in for David De Gea throughout the cup competitions this season, saying:

“We know we have got two top quality goalkeepers, whoever is selected is stepping up and we have got a really good squad.”

Chris Smalling was also asked about the fitness of both Paul Pogba and Daley Blind who both amassed injuries against the Russian side. The England defender said:

“We hope that their injuries are not too serious. We have got a couple of days to recover now and then go again on Sunday.”

Juan Mata also spoke to BT Sport about Manchester United’s chances of lifting the UEFA Europa League trophy at the end of the season, the only major European trophy which United have not yet lifted in their entire history. The Spaniard replied by saying:

“That’s our aim, we always want to win every tournament that we play in. We know it is a good chance, obviously if you win, to play Champions League next season and we are going to try until the end. There are still some very good games left in the Europa League, the level is very good, so it is going to be difficult but we would like to play Champions League next season and this is one way to do it.”

Sergio Romero was named the Man of the Match:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the importance being that Manchester United made it into the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals:

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho spoke to the media after his side’s 2-1 aggregate victory over FC Rostov at Old Trafford on Thursday night and spoke about many factors of the match. Mourinho spoke about the following;

The analysis of the victory which sees United in the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League this season:

“In the first half we were fresh, we were not dead, and we were really dominant, and we created chances, and they did not cross the midfield line, and everything looked like we were going to score a couple of goals to kill it. But they played clearly to let the game go until the period where we would be logically in some trouble from a physical point of view. We left the game open, they left the game open too, and in the last part we had problems, we had injuries, we had to make changes.”

Mourinho confirmed that Paul Pogba has a hamstring injury and Daley Blind, who was also substituted with an injury needs time for his complaint to be assessed:

“Paul has an issue, Daley I do not know, I have to see what happened. Fatigue has a price but I will remember forever, when I spoke with the UEFA delegate in Rostov, he told me that if any of our players gets an injury then the insurance pays so the pitch is not a problem. Probably the people that decide the match is for us on the Monday, and then the Sunday at 12 o’clock, they are probably people who think the same: if they are injured, they are insured and it is no problem.”

More on Paul Pogba:

“It is a hamstring. I don’t know for sure but no Middlesbrough and national team.”

Mourinho on Marcos Rojo eating a banana on the pitch, which seems to raise some questions as if many had never seen a banana before:

“I don’t know if you are tired any time in your life. I was tired may times and I know what are the limits of the body and when the body needs anything… Anything! The player asked for a banana [for energy] and it is not to laugh at all, it is to respect the players and their limits. They gave absolutely everything.”

Mourinho on Manchester United being the last team from Manchester in Europa this season, with Leicester City the only other team from England in a competition:

“I am very disappointed. I am not making fun of it, I am speaking really and feeling it. It is bad for us for many reasons. It is bad for us because the five teams that are in front of us in the Premier League, none of them have international football. They will be playing one match per week, like some of them have been doing since the beginning of the season. They don’t know what fatigue is, they don’t know what accumulation is, they don’t know what it is to go home tonight and don’t speak because of fatigue. Tomorrow is another day for us and we will fight until the limit. That is what we have to do.”

Manchester United will find out who their opposition in the quarter-final stages of the UEFA Europa League on Friday afternoon. Besiktas, Celta Vigo, Genk, Lyon, Schalke, Ajax, and Anderlecht are all through to the quarter-final stages.

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