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Ratings: Paul Pogba returned to become the hero in Milan victory; Henderson, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw all played well

Manchester United beat AC Milan 1-0 in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg, winning 2-1 on aggregate to earn a place in the quarter-final of the competition with the draw being held on Friday, where United will learn their fate. It was a dire first 45 minutes for United, who did not look like scoring and went into the break knowing that they would need to step up. Paul Pogba returned from injury, replacing Marcus Rashford at half time, scoring the only goal of the game in the 48th minute of the match, which saw United through. A late onslaught from Milan led to nothing for them, other than an exit from the competition.

United did not have the greatest of starts in Milan with the home side doing all they needed to do on and off the ball to keep United at bay. They were effectively winning the tie with the away goal from last week so were in a position of strength keeping United at bay. Mason Greenwood seemed to be the most potent Anointed player in the early stages of the half to cause some damage, especially with his pace, but United were not getting the right responses from the players to get an early goal. Solskjaer’s side needed to break through the Milan defence and get something to level the game, which would take some pressure off them.

Luke Shaw was an outlet of attack on the left again, which has been the case in recent matches. United had a great chance in the 12th minute of the match with Shaw playing a one-two with Marcus Rashford before Bruno Fernandes had his first sight of goal on the edge of the box but the ball eventually skipped over the crossbar. Milan then went on the attack with Pierre Kalulu losing the ball to Fred before Franck Kessie received another pass and tried his luck from distance with the ball heading into the arms of Dean Henderson. It was not really a first half to talk about other than think about the challenge that United had ahead of them.

At the start of the second half, United made a change with Marcus Rashford being replaced by Paul Pogba with the Frenchman playing on the wing, which is a gamble but something the player has been involved in before his latest injury. Almost instantly he made an impact with United forward, Fernandes played the ball to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James then received the cross but his shot was deflected wide. Fred then did well to make Milan panic with a clearance as Pogba collected the ball. He then dummied a shot before dinning the ball over Gianluigi Donnarumma to get a vital away goal for United.

United then started to find more attacking prowess as they had more chances, seeking for a cushion in their lead, which will see them through if Milan did not score. Milan then brought on former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and current loanee Diogo Dalot as the Italian side fouled Pogba more than once, with Dalot being shown a card for a foul. United may have been tempting fate by sitting on this away goal, in what has been a difficult two-legged tie for United, which is only to be expected from the Italian giants, who have not let up in this game and did not let up last week.

Five minutes were added on at the end of the match with United needing to hold on and stop Milan from getting a sight on goal. United were not able to celebrate anything as Milan were still seeking another late equaliser, which would have taken the match into extra time, which is what happened with Tottenham Hotspur in their match with Dinamo Zagreb, who were 2-0 at full time. They ended up scoring a third which saw Spurs exit the competition with Jose Mourinho not looking all that happy – but when does he? United hung on and grinned out the victory, which was good to see. Another clean sheet and a place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Last week he made an error, this week he became a hero. Made a few good saves to keep Milan at bay. Seemed to stop Ibrahimovic with ease. Definitely finding his feet in the first team.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Did well to thwart Milan's attacking at the end. But getting forward was a problem for him.

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2 Victor Lindelof

He's in excellent form at this stage of the season. Read the game well and dealt with the threat that is Ibrahimovic.

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5 Harry Maguire

He was a threat in set pieces. Defended well alongside Lindelof. Was a booking away from a suspension but that did not worry him. Maybe some will give him credit now?

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23 Luke Shaw

Was United's best attacking player in the first half. He's having a great end to the season for United, which is great to see. Even better when Pogba was on the pitch.

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17 Fred

Had the only shot on target in the first half. Improved with Pogba on the pitch but the jury is still out on the Brazilian.

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39 Scott McTominay

Offered a lot inn midfield but never seemed to be the provider of the goal United needed. Pogba's arrival gave him more thunder on the pitch.

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Ratings: Paul Pogba returned to become the hero in Milan victory; Henderson, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw all played well

Stated the game on good stead and seemed to be ready to take on the world. He regressed as the game grew on but still showed some fight, which is good to see. Someone will criticise him for not scoring but he did try to get on the end of things, and start them.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

He's definitely tired. He was bailed out by Lindelof at one stage of the match. When Pogba came on, he was more assured on the pitch.

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10 Marcus Rashford

His game lasted 45 minutes and his impact was very little. He was rushed back at the weekend and it has shown tonight. Hopefully he recovers soon.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Played brightly but was isolated at times. When Pogba came on, the game changed for the better.

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Substitutes

6 Paul Pogba

Replaced Rashford 46'. Perhaps should have started but it would have been a risk. Introduced at half time and pounced to score the only goal of the match. Good to see him back.

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Goals: Paul Pogba 48′

Assists: N/A

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; James, Fernandes, Rashford (Pogba 46′); Greenwood

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea, Grant; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Matic, Van de Beek

Bookings: Pierre Kalulu 65′, Diogo Dalot 77′, Simon Kjaer 85′, Theo Hernandez 90+5′; Luke Shaw 90+3′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Solskjaer names unchanged side to face AC Milan; De Gea, Pogba and Van de Beek on the bench

Manchester United will travel to Italy to face AC Milan at the San Siro in the round of 16 second leg of the UEFA Europa League this evening. It was a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford last week which saw 18-year-old Amad Diallo score his first goal for the club five minutes after replacing the injured Anthony Martial. Unfortunately for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, Simon Kjaer equalised in the penultimate minute of added time with goalkeeper Dean Henderson punching the ball into the top of his own net, which must have been devastating for him. To overcome that, Henderson kept a clean sheet against West Ham United on Sunday.

With United conceding an away goal, it will be in their hands to outscore the Italian giants on Thursday with the side having the advantage at this moment in time. If United score at least twice, it will add pressure to the hosts and United will be in the driving seat, as long as they can minimise Milan’s attacking threat, which was the case at Old Trafford last week. Milan lost 1-0 to Napoli this weekend so they will be seeking to return to winning ways and restore faith by knocking United out of the competition but Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to be in Friday’s draw for the quarter-final stage of the competition in his quest for his first trophy as United manager.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

James, Fernandes, Rashford;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

De Gea, Grant; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Pogba, Diallo, Matic, Van de Beek

AC Milan:

G. Donnarumma;

Kalulu, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez;

Krunic, Kessie, Meite;

Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers

Substitutes:

Tatarusanu, A Donnarumma; Dalot, Gabbia; Bennacer, Tonali, Diaz; Ibrahimovic, Tonin

United and Milan have met competitively ten times in the history of both clubs, all in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League. United have won five times with Milan winning five times, meaning there has been no draws between the two clubs. United have scored 13 goals against Milan with the Italian giants scoring 13 goals – making it level between the two clubs. The last time United faced Milan was in the round of 16 in the Champions League in the 2009/10 season; winning 3-2 at the San Siro with Ronaldinho and Clarence Seedorf scoring for Milan and Paul Scholes and a brace from Wayne Rooney winning the match. United won 4-0 (7-2 on aggregate) in the second leg with Rooney scoring a brace and Park Ji Sung and Darren Fletcher also scoring.

United also met Milan in the semi-final of the competition at Old Trafford in the 2006/07 season, winning 3-2 in Milan with Cristiano Ronaldo and a Rooney brace and Kaka scoring a brace for the Italian side. At the San Siro, United were beaten 3-0, losing 5-3 on aggregate with Kaka, Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino all scoring. United met Milan in the 2006/07 season at the round of 16 stage, losing 2-0 on aggregate (two 1-0 defeats) with Hernan Crespo scoring in each legs. In 1969, United lost 2-1 on aggregate with Sir Bobby Charlton scoring United’s only goal at the semi-final stage. In 1958, after the Munich Air Disaster, United lost 5-2 on aggregate at the semi-final stage with Ernie Taylor and Dennis Viollet scoring.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] De Gea, Pogba and Van de Beek (from the bench) to return against AC Milan; Cavani misses out

Manchester United will travel to Italy to face AC Milan at the San Siro in the round of 16 second leg of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening. It was a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford last week which saw 18-year-old Amad Diallo score his first goal for the club five minutes after replacing the injured Anthony Martial. Unfortunately for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, Simon Kjaer equalised in the penultimate minute of added time with goalkeeper Dean Henderson punching the ball into the top of his own net, which must have been devastating for him. To overcome that, Henderson kept a clean sheet against West Ham United on Sunday.

With United conceding an away goal, it will be in their hands to outscore the Italian giants on Thursday with the side having the advantage at this moment in time. If United score at least twice, it will add pressure to the hosts and United will be in the driving seat, as long as they can minimise Milan’s attacking threat, which was the case at Old Trafford last week. Milan lost 1-0 to Napoli this weekend so they will be seeking to return to winning ways and restore faith by knocking United out of the competition but Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to be in Friday’s draw for the quarter-final stage of the competition in his quest for his first trophy as United manager.

How United have faired against AC Milan in European competition.

United and Milan have met competitively ten times in the history of both clubs, all in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League. United have won five times with Milan winning five times, meaning there has been no draws between the two clubs. United have scored 13 goals against Milan with the Italian giants scoring 13 goals – making it level between the two clubs. The last time United faced Milan was in the round of 16 in the Champions League in the 2009/10 season; winning 3-2 at the San Siro with Ronaldinho and Clarence Seedorf scoring for Milan and Paul Scholes and a brace from Wayne Rooney winning the match. United won 4-0 (7-2 on aggregate) in the second leg with Rooney scoring a brace and Park Ji Sung and Darren Fletcher also scoring.

United also met Milan in the semi-final of the competition at Old Trafford in the 2006/07 season, winning 3-2 in Milan with Cristiano Ronaldo and a Rooney brace and Kaka scoring a brace for the Italian side. At the San Siro, United were beaten 3-0, losing 5-3 on aggregate with Kaka, Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino all scoring. United met Milan in the 2006/07 season at the round of 16 stage, losing 2-0 on aggregate (two 1-0 defeats) with Hernan Crespo scoring in each legs. In 1969, United lost 2-1 on aggregate with Sir Bobby Charlton scoring United’s only goal at the semi-final stage. In 1958, after the Munich Air Disaster, United lost 5-2 on aggregate at the semi-final stage with Ernie Taylor and Dennis Viollet scoring.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League at the San Siro on Thursday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has not featured for United since the 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at the end of February. He has been in Spain after the birth of his daughter. He returned to Manchester last week and should be ready for feature for his club once again, in a match that they may need his heroics so United prevail and reach the quarter-final stages of the competition. De Gea has not been in the greatest form this season but he has shown glimpses of the De Gea that kept United in good order following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. This could be a good match for the Spanish goalkeeper to return to, knowing that he will need to be at his best.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence are into a period whereby they are seen as strong, having kept five clean sheets in their past six matches in all competitions. Against Milan, United will need to be much stronger and play the game to their advantage. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should keep their places in the fullback roles with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire partnering each other in the centre of defence. Maguire and Lindelof are a yellow card away from a suspension, which would keep him out of the quarter-final first leg, if United get through. Brandon Williams is also in the same position, a booking away from suspension. United must get the job done.

Midfield: Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay

It is green news that Paul Pogba is back in training and even better that he could be back in the team on Thursday evening. He will be exciting to ge back on the pitch and get United heading in the right direction once again, but expecting him to light up the pitch, after many weeks out of action will be a big ask. He will relish facing Milan again, a team he faced many times whilst playing for Juventus. Scott McTominay should start alongside him as he can provide a lot of energy and cover defensively, although this is not his strength. United will need to get the ball forward to get the result they need. McTominay is a booking away from suspension.

Attacking Midfield: Daniel James, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

There are 46 goals and 26 assists in inn this position alone if Daniel James (five goals and one assist), Bruno Fernandes (23 goals and 14 assists) and Marcus Rashford (18 goals and 11 assists) all start. This is the majority of the goals that have been scored by United this season and also demonstrates the best three-pronged attacking midfield at the club. If Solskjaer wants to see United head into the quarter-finals of the competition, starting all these three players will be needed. Granted, there won’t be many quality options from the bench if all these players start, so the players will need to achieve whilst they are on the pitch.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Edinson Cavani was originally drafted in to start after he had come through from injury in the last few days. He was initially named in the squad to travel to Milan today but after the final training session, he was ruled out and will remain in Manchester. With Anthony Martial also missing out, that leaves just Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to lead the line. In this instance, with Rashford playing on the left-wing, Greenwood should lead the line against Milan, which will be a big occasion for the player and a chance for hims to play in his favoured role at the club. United still have a competitive squad and will be boosted with others returning.

Substitutes: Lee Grant, Dean Henderson; Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Fred, Amad Diallo, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek

Solskjaer will need to get his substitutes right for this match as it is the biggest match United will face this season. A place in the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League is up for grabs and United will want to be in Friday’s draw for the quarter-final and semi-final stages of the competition. I would expect both Lee Grant and Dean Henderson to be on the bench and in defence, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe. In midfield, Fred, Amad Diallo, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek and would provide many different options. Eric Bailly, Shola Shoretire and Anthony Martial will not travel to Italy.

Written by John Walker

Preview: United’s squad stronger to face Milan with De Gea, Pogba and Van de Beek all returning; Cavani now misses out

AC Milan -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

San Siro, Milan

Thursday 18 March 2021, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Felix Brych Assistants: Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp

Fourth Official: Christian Dingert

VAR: Marco Fritz Assistant VAR: Sascha Stegemann

Manchester United will travel to Italy to face AC Milan at the San Siro in the round of 16 second leg of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening. It was a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford last week which saw 18-year-old Amad Diallo score his first goal for the club five minutes after replacing the injured Anthony Martial. Unfortunately for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, Simon Kjaer equalised in the penultimate minute of added time with goalkeeper Dean Henderson punching the ball into the top of his own net, which must have been devastating for him. To overcome that, Henderson kept a clean sheet against West Ham United on Sunday.

With United conceding an away goal, it will be in their hands to outscore the Italian giants on Thursday with the side having the advantage at this moment in time. If United score at least twice, it will add pressure to the hosts and United will be in the driving seat, as long as they can minimise Milan’s attacking threat, which was the case at Old Trafford last week. Milan lost 1-0 to Napoli this weekend so they will be seeking to return to winning ways and restore faith by knocking United out of the competition but Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to be in Friday’s draw for the quarter-final stage of the competition in his quest for his first trophy as United manager.

Both Solskjaer and Stefano Pioli may be facing problems with their squad ahead of this match with injuries but each manager has worries regarding bookings in this match with Milan having three players a booking away from suspension, which means they will miss the first leg of the quarter-final, should they advance. These players are; Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli and Alexis Saelemaekers. United have four players at risk of suspension following a booking. These players are; Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Brandon Williams. There could be trouble ahead if United lose both Maguire and Lindelof to bookings.

Manchester United: WDWDDD

West Ham United 1-0 W, AC Milan 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Chelsea 0-0 D, Real Sociedad 0-0 D

AC Milan: LDWDWD

SSC Napoli 1-0 L, Manchester United 1-1 D, Hellas Verona FC 2-0 W, Udinese Calcio 1-1 D, AS Roma 2-1 W, Crvena zvezda 1-1 D

Top Scorers: United have scored 88 goals in all competitions this season with Milan scoring just 64 times so far this season. Bruno Fernandes (24) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (14) lead the way for both clubs.

Manchester United Goals: 23 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Daniel James, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 3 – Own Goal, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

In the last six matches in all competitions, United are still unbeaten; winning twice and drawing four of the matches played. United have scored four goals and conceded once, which is a good sign, keeping five clean sheets, which is even better in a demonstration of consistency. Granted, United’s attack has been thwarted by injury, which is why goals had not been scored with United down to bare bones. With players now coming back to fitness and ready to feature for the club, United will be inn a much better position to reach the quarter-final stage of the competition this season, which is what the focus will be one achieving.

AC Milan Goals: 14 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 10 – Franck Kessié, 6 – Rafael Leão, 5 – Theo Hernández, Ante Rebic, 4 – Brahim Díaz, Jens Petter Hauge, 3 – Samu Castillejo, 2 – Davide Calabria, Hakan Calhanoglu, Diogo Dalot, Rade Krunic, Alexis Saelemaekers, 1 – Pierre Kalulu, Simon Kjaer, Alessio Romagnoli

Milan have been a much better club this season and they are rising to the challenge domestically once again, sitting in second place in the Serie A table, although they are nine points adrift of league leaders Inter Milan. In their last six matches in all competitions, Milan have won twice, drawn three times and lost once, which was in their match against Napoli at the weekend. They have scored seven goals, conceding five and keeping one clean sheet, which shows a weakness in the defence at this time, which could be something for United to get on the end of. That said, Milan have missed Ibrahimovic and he could be back for Thursday’s clash.

Team News: Solskjaer boosted with Cavani, Van de Beek, Pogba and De Gea news although Martial will miss out. Ibrahimovic, Mandzukic, Bennacer and Maldini could all miss the clash with United.

Phil Jones (knee) and Juan Mata (other) have both been ruled out of action for the foreseeable future. It is suggested that Jones may not feature for United for the remainder of the season. After Sunday’s 1-0 victory over West Ham United at Old Trafford, Solskjaer gave the news that Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and David De Gea are in contention to feature against AC Milan. Anthony Martial, Eric Bailly, Nathan Bishop and Shola Shoretire have not travelled to Italy for the match. However, after the final training session on Wednesday, Cavani suffered a reaction which means he will remain in Manchester for observation.

Mario Mandzukic (muscular) and Daniel Maldini (unknown) are currently on the sidelines for Milan. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has missed the last five matches and returned to training on Monday so could be in line to face United. Ismaël Bennacer has missed the last eight matches and there are hopes that he will be available to face United. At the weekend Hakan Calhanoglu, Theo Hernandez and Ante Rebic all returned to action with the latter being sent off, which will not affect his availability for Thursday’s match. Milan have the slight advantage with the away goal scored at Old Trafford last week but if United score one goal, that advantage is gone.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood to lead the attack against AC Milan at the San Siro on Thursday evening?

Solskjaer gave the impression that David De Gea, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani could all be fit to face AC Milan on Thursday evening, in what it a big match for United. Anthony Martial might not be fully ready for the match but could be a substitute on the bench, not that his current form is anything to go by. This is good news for United. As Tuesday’s training pictures were released, it showed the trio of Pogba, Van de Beek and Cavani training but not De Gea, to my knowledge. It would seem that United are going to be much stronger in Milan than they were at Old Trafford last week, which is a good sign for the manager and the club.

Match Prediction: 11 matches played between United and Milan. Each club has five victories and one draw ahead of the clash to see which teams reached the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League this season.

United and Milan have met competitively ten times in the history of both clubs, all in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League. United have won five times with Milan winning five times, meaning there has been no draws between the two clubs. United have scored 13 goals against Milan with the Italian giants scoring 13 goals – making it level between the two clubs. The last time United faced Milan was in the round of 16 in the Champions League in the 2009/10 season; winning 3-2 at the San Siro with Ronaldinho and Clarence Seedorf scoring for Milan and Paul Scholes and a brace from Wayne Rooney winning the match. United won 4-0 (7-2 on aggregate) in the second leg with Rooney scoring a brace and Park Ji Sung and Darren Fletcher also scoring.

United also met Milan in the semi-final of the competition at Old Trafford in the 2006/07 season, winning 3-2 in Milan with Cristiano Ronaldo and a Rooney brace and Kaka scoring a brace for the Italian side. At the San Siro, United were beaten 3-0, losing 5-3 on aggregate with Kaka, Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino all scoring. United met Milan in the 2006/07 season at the round of 16 stage, losing 2-0 on aggregate (two 1-0 defeats) with Hernan Crespo scoring in each legs. In 1969, United lost 2-1 on aggregate with Sir Bobby Charlton scoring United’s only goal at the semi-final stage. In 1958, after the Munich Air Disaster, United lost 5-2 on aggregate at the semi-final stage with Ernie Taylor and Dennis Viollet scoring.

AC Milan 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW