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Ratings: Pogba and Romero key for United making the final; Bailly saw red!

Manchester United beat Celta Vigo 2-1 on aggregate after a thrilling 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. United have pushed themselves, albeit against the odds as the Spanish side were testing United more, especially in the final third of the game, into the final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm in Sweden on Wednesday 24th May 2017. The bad taste will come from the fact that defender Eric Bailly will miss the match, only being available for the final three Premier League matches of the season due to being send off for a fracas in which he punched a Celta Vigo player with Facundo Roncaglia also seeing red for the part he played in the moment of madness. United will be missing Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah for the final, which will be a big loss against Ajax, who have shown what they could do by beating Lyon 4-1 last week, losing 3-1 this week, going through to the final on a 5-4 aggregate victory.

United played well at times with Marouane Fellaini scoring United’s goal through a header with a pass provided by Marcus Rashford with Roncaglia scoring the equaliser on the night, which seemed to cause more problems for United, especially in the final minute in which John Guidetti nearly scored with two seconds remaining of the match. Jose Mourinho will have a seventh match this month and a final match to the season before United recharge their batteries, aside of Michael Carrick’s testimonial at the start of June, which will come just before what is expected to be a busy summer for Mourinho and United with incomings and plenty of outgoing expected.

Goals: Marouane Fellaini 17′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 17′

Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Fellaini; Lingard (Rooney 86′), Pogba, Mkhitaryan (Carrick 77′); Rashford (Smalling 89′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Jones; Mata, Martial

Bookings: Daley Blind 32′, Ander Herrera 81′, Eric Bailly s/o 87′

Manchester United

22 Sergio Romero

The Argentinian showed his class against Celta Vigo having to get involved in seven opportunities; making three saves, two punches and two catches as the visitors caused problems for United. Romero is a adequate stand in for David De Gea and it does make you wonder if he will be selected for the final after his heroics.

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25 Antonio Valencia

The United captain for the evening had little to do defensively against Celta Vigo as Matteo Darmian was viewed as the weak fullback. Valencia was good on the attack, but lost his cool late on in the fracas which saw silly sent off.

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3 Eric Bailly

Did his bit for United this evening and teamed with Valencia, got the better of most attacks on his side. He was sent off for lunging at Guidetti though, which may have been harsh and could be the subject of an appeal. The ABU's will say its just desert as he's a United player!

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17 Daley Blind

The Dutchman did not look at the top of his game against Celta Vigo making some ill-judged mistakes and looking miles away from the player he could have been. With Bailly out for the final, he needs to work hard to remain in with a chance of playing.

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Matteo Darmian

The Spanish side must have watched him against Arsenal as they seemed to use is position to get the better of United. The Italian did recover though, which was a good sign.

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21 Ander Herrera

Herrera played well against the Spanish side, playing the defensive midfield role, but his opposition played better then they did a week ago, regaining possession and using it against United. Dis what was needed though with United JUST getting through.

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27 Marouane Fellaini

The scorer of the opening goal which may see some appreciate him more, especially in that he is a danger in the box for a set-piece or with perfect crossed being aimed at him. The Belgian earned his place in the final in Sweden by seemingly putting United through with their goal. It could have all been different. He was aggressive when pressing forward, which is what was needed with United lacking many attacking outlets at this stage of the season.

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14 Jesse Lingard

The England international was lively at times, but seemed to not have the added quality to help United get something more against Celta Vigo. He worked well with his teammates though, so it is easy to see why Mourinho opted for him over other players in the side.

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6 Paul Pogba

Man of the Match for me. His class on the ball is something impressive and I don't get why people seem to miss this, defining his performances by his transfer fee instead. He showboated well, getting the advantage from doing so, which is fair enough. Playing is a preferred position with players to help him rise to the occasion will be so much better for him next season.

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22 Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Armenian seemed to be looking to create and be the main attacking output from the start, which was a much-improved performance from his last match. Playing defensively was his weakness, being an attacker and all, but he helped get the job done.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The 19-year-old was involved in four goals for United in the Europa League this season, scoring two and assisting two. His set up for Fellaini was impressive and he tried to push United through the door a bit more with his attempts. He handled it all well, though, which is a great sign for his and United's future.

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Substitutes

16 Michael Carrick

Replaced Mkhitaryan. Helped United shore up the midfield, which seemed to be a position that the Spanish side got the better in. Helped his side extend their season by one match with a big prize on offer.

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Ratings: Pogba and Romero key for United making the final; Bailly saw red!

Replaced Lingard. The captain came on after United and Celta Vigo were both down to ten men, helping steer his side to glory, wasting time in a manner which the opposition have opted for at stages this season.

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Chris Smalling

Replaced Rashford. Came on late with both teams down to ten men. Helped United hold onto their slim lead.

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Report: United earn Europa League final place; Bailly sent off!

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Celta Vigo in the semi-final second leg of the UEFA Europa League earning a final place against Ajax who beat Lyon 5-4 on aggregate in the other semi-final. Marouane Fellaini was the provider of United’s goal in the 17th minute of the match by Facundo Roncaglia who was sent off along with Eric Bailly in the 87th minute of the match after a fracas over something around the centre circle. United will be weakened in the final but will aim to win it.

Jose Mourinho started the same team he did a week ago in Spain, making seven changes from the team beaten 2-0 by Arsenal on Sunday. The Spanish side were looking for a goal from the off, pressuring United in their own area, aiming to get something on the break. Sergio Romero has to make two stops on the first two minutes, calm in his area with United seemingly inviting pressure on them. United soon got themselves back in the game through their possession, Paul Pogba did some keepy-uppy tricks turning to attack sending a good ball into the area which was thwarted by the Spanish side. United took the lead in the 17th minute of the match through Marouane Fellaini with a header after Rashford put a sensational pass into him. United were 1-0 up and two goals to the good.

Fellaini’s header was United’s 100th goal of the season. Two minutes after United’s opener Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a shot after he broke clear on the left flank but his effort flew over the crossbar. United has changed their play from sitting in their own half in the opening few minutes of the match to playing some quick attacking football. Mkhitaryan released Lingard, but his effort from the edge of the box was deflected for a United corner, which amounted to nothing. Celta Vigo won a free-kick in the 25th minute of the match which was swung in by Daniel Wass and Romero had to punch the ball to safety. Two minutes later, Pablo Hernandez was given the space and the time to shoot from 25-yards, forcing Romero to put it out for a corner.

In the 35th minute of the match, United seemed to be in cruise control and well on their want to facing Ajax in the final in Sweden in just under a fortnight’s time. United found themselves under a bit of pressure with five minutes left with Pione Sisto’s quick feet towards the left-hand side of the edge of the box before he curled his effort almost catching Romero off his line. United ended the half 1-0 up, 2-0 on aggregate seemingly in the driving seat to the final. Marcus Rashford, the provider to Fellaini’s header has been involved in United’s last four goals in the Europa League, scoring twice and assisting twice. No changes at the start of the second half for, but the visitors brought on Sanchez Ruiz Jozabed for Daniel Wass.

From the start of the second half, Celta Vigo were looking to get themselves back into the match with fast paced attacking football. In all of their six away matches in the Europa League this season, the Spanish side have scored, winning three of the last four, which could suggest they will not be happy leaving Old Trafford without finding the back of the net, which would help them change the game. United, though, have been doing their best to thwart the Spanish side from taking away their advantage of the away goal a week ago. United seemed to have gone back to playing in their own half with Celta Vigo pressuring them with their pace and ability, which so far is not causing many problems for United. Romero has been a top player in this game, getting the better of almost every attempt made.

United won a free-kick in their own area after Pogba did a Cruyff turn, being taken out by Hugo Mallo. The £89 million man will probably be criticised for using his skill by those who just do not know how to appreciate him. Just after the hour mark, United started getting themselves forward, creating some pressure for the visitors, so far it not getting them anything. Marcus Rashford got himself into the box, creating a threat on the Spanish side, keeping the ball and launching a shot with was dealt with by Celta Vigo. United had another spot of pressure to deal with but Eric Bailly chased down and won the ball, under pressure to clear it, so he rounds the player who was trying to dispossess him, clearing the ball easily.

Iago Aspas earned himself a yellow card for dissent after going down on the left side of the box with Mkhitaryan trying to get the ball back. He seemed to think he was due a free-kick but the referee did not make much of it, booking him after he threw his toys out of the pram. Theo Bongonda replaced Nemanja Radoja in the 68th minute of the match, the second substitution of the evening for the visitors. In the 69th minute, Fellaini was through in the box, sending his shot goalwards with a corner being won which Rashford took, not getting anything for United from that set-piece. In the 71st minute Jozabed had a shot on goal, which was wide of the mark. United looked comfortable at this late stage of the match with Celta Vigo looking desperate for a goal.

In the 75th minute after pressuring United, Celta Vigo had a good chance to capitalise through John Guidetti, being off target by some distance. Chances seem to be running out for the Spanish side. In the 77th minute of the match, Michael Carrick replaced Henrikh Mkhitaryan with United looking to win the match with the veteran midfielder on the pitch to help United in possession and set the tempo for the game. The Spanish side made their second change on the  80th minute with Claudio Beauvue replacing Sisto. United still have two substitutes to make, with the visitors having none left this evening. United had a moment of pressure on the Spanish side with Lingard and Rashford having some good play, but failing to get something from the attack.

In the 85th minute of the match, United conceded the away goal with Facundo Roncaglia scoring the equaliser on the night. United still lead 2-1 on aggregate with a nervy final few minutes. There was a fracas on the pitch with Eric Bailly seemingly punching John Guidetti and Antonio Valencia involved also. It resulted in Bailly being sent off as well as Roncaglia with both teams down to ten men and the winner missing either man from the final. After the commotion Wayne Rooney replaced Lingard and Chris Smalling replaced Rashford with United still in the match just, but conceding another goal would see them out of the competition. Six minutes were added at the end of the match. United won a free-kick on the edge of the Celta Vigo’s box after a challenge, which came to nothing.

Four minutes into added time Pogba played a sublime pass to Ander Herrera who found the back of the net with it being ruled out as Pogba fouled his man in the box. United seemed to be wasting time where they could, in all fairness, they had been the victim of teams wasting time in this competition this season, so why not waste some of their own. In the final few seconds of the match, the Spanish side were through on goal with United doing just enough to stop a second goal being scored. United were through to the final, but it was going to be at some cost – maybe not an injury, but with Eric Bailly losing his cool and earning himself a straight red card meaning he will miss out in Sweden in less than a fortnight.

Goals: Marouane Fellaini 17′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 17′

Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Fellaini; Lingard (Rooney 86′), Pogba, Mkhitaryan (Carrick 77′); Rashford (Smalling 89′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Jones; Mata, Martial

Bookings: Daley Blind 32′, Ander Herrera 81′, Eric Bailly s/o 87′

Team News: Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Pogba and Lingard start against Celta Vigo

Manchester United will face Celta Vigo in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg at Old Trafford this evening, keeping a 1-0 aggregate lead from the first leg, attempting to keep a clean sheet and score goals aplenty to ensure United carve their name into the final in Sweden at the end of the month. United have had a tough season, seeing it take its toll on the players, especially where injuries are concerned. United will end the season without Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, which is a big blow to the defensive and attacking ability missing from the squad. United have adapted, as they needed to, aiming to give the Old Trafford faithful what they want, a major European final. It is perhaps not the European final many will have hoped for, but it could mean another trophy, one which United have not yet won in their history.

Manchester United:

Romero;

Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian;

Herrera, Fellaini;

Lingard, Pogba, Mkhitaryan;

Rashford

Substitutes:

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

Celta Vigo:

Alvarez;

Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Jonny;

Radoja, Hernandez;

Aspas, Wass, Sisto;

Guidetti

Substitutes:

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

United and Celta Vigo played last week, which was the first every competitive match between the two sides with United winning 1-0 with a goal from a free-kick scored by Marcus Rashford. United are 90 or 120 minutes plus from the club’s first ever UEFA Europa League final, which could bag them a place in the Champions League, providing they win. It may not have been the next season, but ending the season by winning another trophy for the club will be a fitting end to what may be a busy summer and the start of an important second season for Mourinho and his squad.

Preview: Manchester United to pull out all the stops to beat Celta Vigo?

Manchester United  -v- Celta Vigo

Old Trafford, Manchester

UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Thursday 11th May 2017; KO 20:05 BST

Live on BT Sport 2HD

Manchester United play their biggest match of the season at Old Trafford on Thursday night, the penultimate match at the Theatre of Dreams this season. Celta Vigo will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat a week ago by earning a place in the UEFA Europa League final – all they will need to do is score twice to put their foot in the door. United ideally need to keep a clean sheet or score one or two early goals, which will still make this match a nervous one as it is United’s best chance to keep their dream of a UEFA Champions League place next season. On Sunday in the Premier League, United were defeated 2-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates, meaning they remain fifth in the league, but an Arsenal win over Southampton on Wednesday could see United back in sixth and seemingly out of chances of a top-four finish this season. United will, however, keep trying in the league, unless they get to the Europa League final, with gives them 50% chance of winning.

Jose Mourinho made eight changes to his side against Arsenal, giving talented youth player Axel Tuanzebe a debut he could not forget and neither could we. He was impressive from the off and dealt with Alexis Sanchez to the best of his abilities, keeping the Chilean quiet. Tuanzebe will not be expected to be part of the team who start on Thursday, but that performance could see him included on the bench as he did a lot better than both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who in their favour had not played for some seven weeks. United have three matches to play after this game on Thursday, seeing the 2016/17 season come to an end, which has been a positive one for them. Winning the FA Community Shield and the EFL Cup shows that something is there in order for the team to fight for trophies and they could well end the season with another, now which they have never lifted before.

Celta Vigo have not had the best end to their season, losing all five of their last five matches, scoring one goal, which in La Liga sees them in twelfth place, a long way off a European place next season, which could give the side the motivation to sweep United aside and claim the final berth themselves. United may well be in the driving seat for this match, having an away goal but the Spanish side have the availability to end that by scoring themselves, like Anderlecht did in the last round, meaning United had to go into extra time to find the winner, which was exciting and all, but personally gives me that nervous feeling, which in actual fact I have not felt for a while. I am sure Mourinho and his team will be looking to earn their plaudits ahead of a summer which could see the boys cast away from the men searching for a chance to resurrect their careers.

Ander Herrera is determined to help obtain UEFA Champions League football next season, whether that be through United’s Premier League position, or winning the UEFA Europa League at the end of the month, should they get through Celta Vigo, of course. Herrera, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“The most important thing is to be in the Champions League next season; I have no doubt for this club it is very important to be in the Champions League. 

“We have two titles – the Community Shield and League Cup – and we can have a very good season if we fight for the Europa League. But we have to be very respectful because Celta are very difficult opponents overall.

“They have scored away in every game they’ve played in the competition so we have to be aware of that. They are a very good team, very dangerous when they play away and we will need our fans at home. I tell them we really need them to create a good atmosphere, a difficult atmosphere for the opponents, who can push us to be in the final. It’s not going to be easy.”

Match Officials:

Ovidiu Haţegan will officiate the match at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. The Romanian referee has been in charge of four UEFA Champions League matches this season and this will be his second UEFA Europa League match. During those matches, he has shown 11 yellow cards, one second yellow and one red card (Champions League) and five yellow cards and one second yellow in the Europa League. The 37-year-old has never been involved in a Manchester United match before. The assistant referees have been named as Octavian Șovre and Sebastian Gheorghe. The fourth official will be Radu Ghinguleac. The additional assistant referees will be Radu Petrescu and Sebastian Colţescu.

Form: United’s unbeaten run in the Premier League has ended, but their season has only just begun

Manchester United: Jose Mourinho’s team started the season well, but soon lost their form, recovering it again at various points of the season. United recently achieved a 25-match unbeaten run, which sounds great, but has seen them flaunt with the teams above them, not actually gaining enough ground to get above them. The record though will be good for a foundation ahead of next season, which needs to be much better than this one. The fact that United have already won the FA Community Shield and the EFL Cup, and could end the season in a European final is something to salivate, despite it not being the European final many will have dreamt of. United still have a long way to go, but or on the right road, which cannot be said under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, especially after the improvements made during the last summer.

Celta Vigo: Celta Vigo have had a tough season. Last season, they finished sixth in La Liga, two points shy of Athletic Bilbao. This season, however, the decline is very much visible with them in twelfth place at this moment in time, seemingly out of a European place, meaning this will be their chance to keep European football at the club next season. The Célticos have not won in their last six matches, drawing one, but losing the next five, scoring two goals throughout those matches. That sort of form days away from a visit to the Theatre of Dreams will be daunting for the Spanish side, who actually have nothing to lose, so will probably give it a go with just one goal between the two teams at this moment in time. An away goal will be a problem for United, who ideally need to shut up shop.

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

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 12 – 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: United stronger after three players coming back from injury but Zlatan’s absence could still be costly

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will be without Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah for this match, all of who have significant injuries, aside from Young, who has a hamstring issue. Marcus Rashford received an injury in this fixture last week, but he played against Arsenal on Sunday, so it was nothing serious and he should be raring to go on Thursday night at the Theatre of Dreams. Celta Vigo manager Eduardo Berizzo will be without Guiseppe Rossi and Rubén Blanco, which should leave him with a talented enough squad to aim to get something from this match.

Previous Meetings: A second meeting between the two sides, the first at Old Trafford

United and Celta Vigo played for the first time at Balaídos last week with Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the game. This will be the first time the Spanish side visit the Theatre of Dreams, which could be a big occasion for them. Both United and Celta Vigo have played Spanish and English opposition respectively, and seem to have a decent record, although none of the matches have been played all that recently. United will have enough in reserve to push Celta aside, though.

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

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-0 Celta Vigo

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