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Mourinho: I am very pleased with the performance but not with the result

Manchester United beat Celta Vigo 1-0 in the semi-final first leg of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening in Spain. It was a match where United had some of their stars back, Paul Pogba being one of them and boy was he missed whilst he has been on the sidelines through injury but those that do not appreciate him, will be moaning that he did not score three goals, assisting them himself and deny Celta by saving shots on goal too. Still, those who appreciate what Pogba does will understand what I am saying here. United had many chances to make the difference against the Spanish side, with taking the final shots after the creativity of players such as Pogba, were to blame for their chances not being goals. Pogba will be criticised, though as that is the mentality the social media supporters have, probably relying on social media to keep tabs on the match, not actually watching it. United are 90, or 120 minutes if extra time is needed away from a European final, maybe not the one they would like to be in.

After the result in Spain, Jose Mourinho spoke to BT Sport about the result, suggesting it is an open result and alluding to the fact his side will need to be at their best in a week’s time at Old Trafford. Mourinho said:

“I am very pleased with the performance but not with the result. At half time should have been three or at least two but the result is open. We played well enough to have result closed but we have to go and play at Old Trafford.”

Mourinho also praised the goalscorer Marcus Rashford, for his sublime free kick in the 67th minute of the match, saying:

“He’s a 19-year-old kid. But he’s a 19-year-old kid that’s in love with football. A kid that finishes a training session and stays half an hour more to take free-kicks and to wait for the opportunity. It’s his mentality. He works, he works, he works. He’s very mature and let’s forget the age because what matters is not the age, it’s the quality. He started the game with a little problem and obviously with the running and the continuity, he was feeling [it] and [Anthony] Martial was fresh and had to give us the last ten or fifteen minutes where we thought we still could score because [there was] still plenty of space to play.”

United goalkeeper Sergio Romero made his 15th appearances this season for the club keeping his tenth clean sheet, which puts him in the frame of a great stand in goalkeeper when David De Gea does not play, possibly one to replace him at the club if the Spaniard does leave for Real Madrid in the summer.

Chris Smalling, making his return from injury after almost six weeks out on the sidelines, tweeted about the result, along with many of his teammates, which shows that reports of a social media ban were made up by the media earlier in the week. Smalling tweeted about the return leg at Old Trafford, in which United can earn a UEFA Europa League final place, giving them a 50% chance of earning a place in the Champions League next season.

Marcus Rashford, the scorer of the only goal in the match with Celta Viga, was named the Manchester United Man of the Match with 52% of the votes via the club’s Twitter account.

United manager Jose Mourinho spoke about Thursday night’s match with the media in his usual press conference where he discussed the result, the pleasing performance and looking ahead to the next matches. Mourinho started off by talking about the result, of which he was not very pleased with but was pleased with the performance of his side. Mourinho said:

“I’m very pleased with the performance, not so pleased with the result. At half-time, it should be already two [-nil] and the result is open. I think we played enough to have the result closed so next week, big match at Old Trafford. We played well enough to have the result closed but we have to go and play at Old Trafford. We tried to win the match but we missed chances.”

Mourinho went into detail about the performance, which pleased him, saying:

“We tried until the end, from the first minute to try and win the match and score goals but we missed chances, but the team was good, strong and compact. It made a strong atmosphere look nice and did well against a team that is very difficult to play against because of the way they defend with seven, eight, nine players man-to-man and I think we played really well. Very good performance, we had to play against the very negative record of Manchester United in Spain, so it’s good but we have the match at Old Trafford. Let’s hope Old Trafford wants us to win because, when Old Trafford wants, we win so that’s what we want.”

Mourinho closed by talking about the upcoming matches, more importantly, Arsenal away on Sunday which United could further their distance on the fallen North London club with a victory at the Emirates. Mourinho said:

“It’s a short result, it could have been better. Seeing Celta’s trajectory in the Europa League, they definitely deserve respect for the second leg. The players are in accumulation with lots of minutes because we played nine matches in April and now this one, so 10 in four-and-a-half weeks. The players in that accumulation are not going to play this weekend [against Arsenal].”

Report: Rashford’s free kick the difference between United and Celta Vigo

Manchester United beat Celta Vigo in the semi-final first leg in the UEFA Europa league through a Marcus Rashford free kick in the 67th minute of the match. Jose Mourinho’s men will be in good stead of the final with a similar performance at Old Trafford in a weeks time. United will be sweating on the fitness of Rashford, who limped off with a knock and Ashley Young, who came on twelve minutes from time but seemed to suffer a hamstring injury, coming off in the 89th minute with Chris Smalling making his return from injury.

Jose Mourinho made six changes from the 1-1 draw against Swansea City at Old Trafford at the weekend with Sergio Romero, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all returning to the starting XI. United started the match in good form, maintaining possession and getting forward at times. In the first five minutes, Marcus Rashford got away down the left, teeing up Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who send his shot wide of the target. Almost five minutes later, Celta had their first chance with Daniel Wass being picked out unmarked, heading wide from six-yards, just beating Sergio Romero to the ball. Let off for United there. Matteo Darmian was pulled aside by the referee in the 12th minute for a challenge on Iago Aspas, avoiding a booking.

Celta Vigo looked like they did not care about United’s history and how big a club they were, taking the challenge to them, using their pace and positioning to try and create a breakthrough, which so far, had been thwarted by United. Paul Pogba was on the attack for United in the 17th minute, taken out at the edge of the box by Facundo Roncaglia, but nothing was given in United’s favour from the Russian official, which was harsh on the Frenchman. United had a great chance through Rashford in the 21st minute, putting in a great curling shot from the edge of the box, which was heading for the top corner, if Sergio Alvarez had not saved it. United won the corner, which came to nothing for the visitors who are still looking for the opening goal of the match.

United had many chances on goal but were being thwarted attempt after attempt. Mkhitaryan had a few himself. Marouane Fellaini was booked on the 34th minute of the match, which was a surprise seemingly learning nothing from the fact he was sent off only two matches ago for a headbutt on Sergio Aguero in the Manchester derby. Celta were bringing all they had against United, getting through on occasion, but not costing United, yet at least. The first half ended 0-0 with United having more threatening chances, but not capitalising so far. It will be a big half for United, who need to get at least an away goal here, or could see themselves in a position whereby they could suffer by conceding in a weeks time at Old Trafford.

United had a good chance to capitalise early in the second half through Fellaini but Gustavo Cabral got to it, clearing the danger. Paul Pogba then picked up the ball, sending his shot over the crossbar. Aspas broke through in the 52nd minute of the match, sending his shot on goal off target, luckily for United. Celta were the team starting to play better in this second half, Pione Sisto fired his shot towards United’s goal with Romero getting a hand to the ball to send it over for a corner. Celta won a corner, which was dealt with by United. United won a free kick at the edge of the box after Hugo Mallo fouled Rashford. Rashford and Daley Blind both set up to take the corner with Blind running over the ball and Rashford taking the kick, putting United 1-0 up.

Celta, after conceding the away goal, were trying to get something from the game. Aspas has a shot, but it was not good enough to cause any damage for United. In the 78th minute of the match, Mourinho made his first change with Ashley Young replacing Mkhitaryan. Two minutes later, Anthony Martial replaced Rashford, who seemed to have a little knock to the inside of his left knee. Celta, at the late stage of the match, were trying to get themselves back into the game knowing that in the last two first leg matches, United have succumbed to a draw from a winning position. United’s away goal will put them in the driving seat heading into the second leg at Old Trafford. Pogba saw himself booked for time wasting before taking a free kick with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Ashley Young, a substitute twelve minutes from time seems to have suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced in the last-minute of the match by Chris Smalling, who made his return from injury with only a day’s training ahead of the match. United seemingly had this tie in the bag, though with Rashford’s free kick breaking the deadlock before coming off with a knock. United did what they needed to do, despite not scoring more, but an away goal in the bag and a clean sheet will set them up well at Old Trafford in a week’s time. Scoring in that game will need to happen in order to guarantee a final berth in Sweden.

Goals: Marcus Rashford 67′

Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford (Martial 80′), Mkhitaryan (Young 78′, Smalling 89′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Mata, Carrick; Rooney

Bookings: Marouane Fellaini 33′, Paul Pogba 85′

Team News: Bailly, Pogba return, Rashford leads the line; De Gea benched!

Manchester United are back in action this evening, facing Celta Vigo in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg. With all still to play for to break into the top four in the Premier League, United’s best chance of a UEFA Champions League place next season will be to go all the way in Europe’s secondary competition, lift the only major trophy they have not won in Sweden at the end of the month. United will need to dig deep and perform to get into the final with Ajax looking likely to reach their first European final in a number of years. Jose Mourinho’s side will need to be their best form, which is something that is not all that consistent recently. Injuries could be a contributing factor for that, which has been eased with Eric Bailly fine after an injury scare and both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling returning to training before heading over to Spain.

Manchester United:

Romero;

Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian;

Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba;

Lingard, Rashford, Mkhitaryan

Substitutes:

De Gea; Smalling; Mata, Martial, Carrick, Young; Rooney

Celta Vigo:

Alvarez;

Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Jonny;

Wass, Radoja, Hernandez;

Aspas, Guidetti, Sisto

Substitutes:

Fontas, Diaz, Bongonda, Beauvue, Jozabed, Gomez, Villar

United and Celta Vigo have not yet met in any competitive competition, but both teams have faced teams from each other’s respective countries. United have broken a record in the league by remaining undefeated in their last 25 matches, in one season, with Sir Alex Ferguson being at the helm the last time a run like this was on the cards. Mourinho’s side are unbeaten in their last eight Europa League matches, winning six and drawing twice – six of these being knockout round matches, two being from the group stages. Come on UNITED!

Preview: Europa League or bust for Manchester United this season?

Celta Vigo -v- Manchester United 

Balaídos, Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain

UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Thursday 4th May 2017; KO 20:05 BST

Live on BT Sport 2HD

Manchester United embark on their semi-final first leg match in the UEFA Europa League against Celta Vigo in Spain on Thursday evening. This is one of the most important matches of the season, as will be the second leg at Old Trafford a week later. Sandwiched either side of a fist to the Emirates to face Arsenal in the Premier League, United do not have an easy week, facing Tottenham Hotspur away after the second leg, which means the next four matches will be make or break for United’s season. Jose Mourinho has seen his side suffer some serious injuries, suggesting some players should come and fight for their team, with others ruled out for the remainder of the season. Only Juan Mata has boosted United with his return from injury ahead of the visit of Swansea City to Old Trafford on Sunday. The Portuguese manager may be waiting on the fitness of Eric Bailly, who was injured on Sunday but has not yet been ruled out by the club for this match.

Celta Vigo have not had a good period recently, being beaten 3-0 at home by Athletic Club this weekend, beaten 2-1 by Sevilla days before and then beaten 1-0 by Real Betis before that, their last Europa League match saw them unbeaten, earning a draw with Genk, winning 4-3 on aggregate to set up a semi-final clash with United. Mourinho will have knowledge of the Spanish side from his management career with Real Madrid, beating them 2-0 and 2-1 during the 2012/13 La Liga season. The team will be much different in those five years, but he will still have an idea how they intend to play against United in seemingly their biggest match of the season.

Celta Vigo are in good form in Europe this season, unbeaten in their last five matches, winning four and drawing one. United have met Spanish opposition in a European semi-final on three occasions, winning on two – going onto lift the cup on both occasions. The omens might be there for United to earn their first European final since 2011, which would certainly be an achievement, even though this is in Europe’s secondary competition. The fact the winners will play in the UEFA Champions League next season will be good enough for many.

Match Officials:

Sergei Karasev will officiate the match between Celta Viga and Manchester United. The Russian referee has been in charge of four UEFA Champions League matches and one Europa League match (this will be his second), this season, showing a total of 17 yellow cards, no red cards yet. The assistant referees will be Anton Averianov and Tikhon Kalugin. The additional assistant referees will be Sergei Lapochkin and Sergei Ivanov. The fourth official will be Igor Demeshko. All the match officials are from Russia.

Form:

Manchester United: Manchester United’s season may not have been the best one recently, but it is far from the worst. One major trophy in the bag, another one still an option and top four still within reach, despite the chances that have been granted to United, which they have not taken the majority of the time. In the Premier League, United sit in fifth place, a point behind Manchester City, the only likely team to fall outside the top four if United challenge them. Beating Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will be needed to do that, though, which may be tough. Earning UEFA Champions League football may lie with victory in the Europa League in Sweden at the end of the month, should they get that far.

Celta Vigo: Celta Vigo sit in eleventh place in La Liga this season, so earning a place in Europe next season lies near enough impossible for them so this semi-final will be their wild card for participation in Europe’s elite competition next season, against all the odds. They may not be one of the best teams in Spain this season, but they have been impressive at times. United will need to keep their eyes on their opposition, ensuring they stop attacks and are not thwarted in their own. If United want victory, they will go for it, but the same will be said for the Spanish side. By the end of next week, we will know if United have a seventh match this month, or whether their Champions League participation rests on them finishing in the top four in the Premier League.

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Celta Vigo this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 11 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, 7 – Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 3 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Celta Vigo: 18 – Iago Aspas, 4 – Giuseppe Rossi, 3 – John Guidetti, Pione Sisto, Daniel Wass, 2 – Gustavo Cabral, Jozabed, Hugo Mallo, Fabian Orellana, Facundo Roncaglia, 1 – Claudio Beauvue, Theo Bongonda, Pape Cheikh, Marcelo Diaz, Pablo Hernandez, Alvaro Lemos, Nemanja Radoja

Team News:

Manchester United have an injury dilemma with many on the sidelines through injury. Eric Bailly is a doubt, his injury not yet being confirmed, but Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah all look set to miss this match in Spain. Marouane Fellaini, suspended in domestic competition, will be eligible to play in the Europa League, so along with Paul Pogba, there will be another option in midfield to save the fatigue of Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera with a view ahead to the Arsenal match in the Premier League on Sunday. Former United forward Giuseppe Rossi will miss out through a cruciate ligament injury, with Rubén Blanco and Carles Planas both set to miss out also. On Wednesday morninh, United were handed an injury boost with Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all returning to training. It is not yet know if the trio will travel to Spain.

Previous Meetings: United and Celta yet to meet but Spanish opposition has been hit and miss for United.

Manchester United and Celta Vigo have never met in a competitive match in the history of both clubs. United and Celta have faced clubs from each other’s countries though. United last played Spanish opposition in the UEFA Champions League with Real Sociedad drawn in United’s group; drawing 0-0 in San Sebastian and winning 1-0 at Old Trafford, through an own goal. Celta last faced English opposition 11 years ago against Newcastle United, losing 2-1 in the UEFA Cup. United have obviously faced Real Madrid, Athletic Club, Barcelona, Valencia, Villarreal and RC Deportivo La Coruña over the years, some successful and other not so.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Celta Vigo?

Predicted Score:

Celta Vigo 1-3 Manchester United

Key Battles: Paul Pogba looking to make his mark against Celta

Manchester United commence their European adventure in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, playing Celta Vigo for the very first time in a competitive match. United have not had the greatest season under Jose Mourinho, but it has been better than the past three with United winning the FA Community Shield at the start of the season and then the EFL Cup just over two months ago. United may not yet be guaranteed UEFA Champions League football, which is what they need to be aiming for, but they still have two options, one of which could be furthered with an away victory against the Spanish side whose form is questionable at this stage of the season. United have a 25-match unbeaten run in the Premier League, losing three league matches all season, the last back in October. Mourinho’s United may be suffering countless injuries, but his side will dig deep and aim to reach the promised land in Sweden on the 24th May 2017. There will be key battles against Celta Vigo on Thursday, three of which can be found here…

Daley Blind -v- John Guidetti

The Dutchman might be the only experienced recognised central defender on Thursday evening with Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling all likely out of action, although nothing has been confirmed regarding Bailly, who could be part of the travelling squad on Wednesday. Blind could partner either Axel Tuanzebe or even Matteo Darmian in the centre of defence against the Spanish side, which would be a makeshift back four, but one which could still work well for Mourinho’s side. Blind has had a good season, his recent partnership with Bailly has been a good one, despite the draws which seem to be happening too many times this season. In the Premier League, Blind has made 22 appearances, scoring one goal. He has created 25 chances for his teammates, having a 50% shot accuracy, which is not that bad for a player of his calibre. His passing rate is good, successfully making 87% of all passes, an average length of 19 metres. Blind makes on average seven defensive actions per match, which is to be expected of a player in his position and is yet to make a defensive error in the league. Facing Blind could well be former Manchester City striker John Guidetti who has made 20 appearances in La Liga this season, scoring three goals. Guidetti has created 12 chances for his teammates, passing successfully 72% of the time. He may not be the best player to go against United’s defence this season, but he could be one who makes United suffer, especially if they do not keep ahead of their game which has been the case in other matches in the Europa League this season.

Paul Pogba -v- Theo Bongonda

Paul Pogba has been missing since the last two matches due to an injury sustained in the last-minute of the 2-0 victory over Burnley just over a week ago, and boy has he been missed. The Frenchman, who despite many supporters saying he has not improved the team this season, even though he has made his mark in matches, will be raring to go. Pogba has played 20 times in the Premier League this season, scoring four goals, which may not be the biggest tally, but doing what he does in midfield is more than enough. When he is playing in his favoured position in a three-man midfield, it may work even better for him. Pogba has an 85% successful passing rate, which is great, passing on average 17 metres in the league. His shooting accuracy is only 41%, but he’s not a striker and will not guarantee goals. He averages three defensive actions per match and has made one defensive error this season. Pogba could be tasked with keeping an eye on Theo Bongonda, who has suggested playing for United might be something he would like to do in the future, providing he is good enough, Bongonda has 28 appearances in La Liga this season, scoring just one goal. He has created 18 chances for his teammates, though. His passing rate is just 78% which is a weakness compared to some of United’s players, so he could be a player Pogba or even Ander Herrera manipulates to make Celta’s side much weaker.

Anthony Martial -v- Nemanja Radoja

Anthony Martial is a player rising in the trust levels with Jose Mourinho this season, especially after being given more of a chance after the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which ended his season and saw him go under the knife, successfully, which is a good thing. Martial had a great season under Louis van Gaal, scoring the goals needed to better United’s season and generally providing some excitement, which was lacking during those two years. This season, Martial has been a different player, but off the field he has had some problems to deal with, which may be the root cause. Recently, he has been lively and seems to be on his way back to his best. Martial has played in 21 league matches this season, scoring four goals. His passing is good with 82% reaching a teammate. Hos shot accuracy is better than some forwards out there with 63% being on target, which could suggest he will help his team to pick the Spanish team apart, which would be long overdue and well received at this stage of the season with Champions league football looking a distant prospect – with United still in with two chances of achieving their ambition, preferably with another trophy bagged in Sweden. Martial may be marked by Nemanja Radoja, a central defensive midfielder, who could try and keep him out of the game. Radoja has 31 appearances in La Liga under his belt this season, scoring one goal. He has created nine chances for his teammates, has a shot accuracy of 67% and his passing reaches a teammate 86% of the time. Radoja could be an ideal replacement to replace Michael Carrick in the summer, so if he impresses, he could be scouted for that role in this match or at Old Trafford, which might be beneficial for him. The Serbian averages three defensive actions per match in La Liga, which is not bad for a midfielder.

copyright: JW