UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg
Manchester United vs. FC Rostov
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Thursday, 16 March 2017
Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Manchester United booked their place in this season’s Europa League last eight with a 1-0 win over FC Rostov.
Having control of the tie thanks to the away goal in Russia last week, Juan Mata scored the only goal of this game in a slightly lacklustre performance from the hosts.
Nonetheless, it was job done, with this competition potentially the priority for the remainder of the season, due to the league run-in and top four places up for grabs.
An early Daley Blind corner was met by Marcos Rojo’s head which forced a fine save from Nikita Medvedev, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fumbled rebound was put behind.
The Swede then struck a free-kick into the wall before Henrikh Mkhitaryan sliced wide on his weaker foot.
Terrific vision from Mata saw his chipped pass find Ibrahimovic, who rounded Medvedev before his attempt deflected over from a tight angle.
Moments after he should’ve been awarded a penalty after being seemingly shoved from Medvedev, Mkhitaryan clipped just wide after latching onto Mata’s through ball.
A thunderous strike from Ibrahimovic crashed against the post as Paul Pogba’s free-kick flew over from distance.
Aleksandr Yerokhin’s ambitious try failed to trouble Sergio Romero, Pogba forced a decent save from Medvedev as half-time arrived with the game goalless.
With Pogba forced off with a suspected hamstring early after the break, Sardar Azmoun’s curling effort forced Romero to conceded a corner, before catching Christian Noboa’s strike.
Ibrahimovic glanced a header over from Antonio Valencia’s cross as Eric Bailly went a crucial block from Dmitry Poloz.
After a cagey spell as Rostov grew into the game, a swift counter-attack saw I Ibrahimovic play through Mkhitaryan on the right, with the former’ flick being tapped home by Mata.
Last week’s equaliser Aleksandr Bukharov saw a glancing header turned behind by Romero’s diving save as United held on for a narrow win on the night and on aggregate.
This is the furthest the club have been in this competition, the only one yet to have been won in their illustrious history, with tomorrow the stage for the quarter-finals draw.
Up next is a trip north to face Middlesbrough at Midday on Sunday, fresh from sacking manager Aitor Karanka, as Jose Mourinho’s side aim to keep the pace with sides above them, and keep alive their top four quest.
United: Romero; Smalling, Bailly, Rojo; Valencia, Herrera, Pogba (Fellaini’s 48), Blind (Jones 63); Mata, Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan.
Subs not used: De Gea, Carrick, Lingard, Young, Rashford.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Rostov: Medvedev, Bayramyan (Kiriev 82), Mevlja, Navas, Kudryashov, Terentjev; Noboa, Prepelita (Devic 79), Yerokhin; Azmoun (Bukharov 61), Poloz.
Subs not used: Goshev.
Manager: Ivan Daniliants