UEFA Europa League Semi-Final Second Leg
Manchester United vs. Celta Vigo
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Thursday, 11 May 2017
Kick-off: 20:05 BST
Manchester United progressed to this season’s Europa League final with a 1-1 draw at home to Celta Vigo.
The semi-final second leg had it all, with Facundo Roncaglia cancelling out Marouane Fellaini’s early opener late on to set up a tense finale at Old Trafford.
Moments after the Spanish side’s equaliser, a brawl broke out in the centre of the pitch, as Eric Bailly and Roncaglia himself received their marching orders after picking up a straight red card apiece for their involvement in proceedings.
Cutting inside onto his favoured left foot, Iago Aspas, formerly of Liverpool, curled an effort which Sergio Romero was forced to tip over.
Just as the home faithful began to become restless at a couple of backwards passes, Marcus Rashford curled a superb cross to the back post to which Fellaini duly obliged to head home and seemingly set United on their way to Sweden.
A speculative volley from Henrikh Mkhitaryan was far too high to trouble from Jesse Lingard’s through ball before the former returned the favour as Lingard’s shot deflected behind.
The visitors reaction to falling behind was positive, with Romero tipping over a Pablo Hernandez shot from distance and Daniel Wass was off target from his free-kick.
Pogba fired over after the ball dropped kindly for the Frenchman before Pione Sisto saw an attempt held.
Sisto then struck over as Wass headed wide from the former’s cross with the interval following shortly after.
Captain Hugo Mallo fired across goal after the restart, only for Romero’s right hand to divert the ball clear as Mkhitaryan stung the fingertips of Sergio Alvarez with a powerful drive.
A tame effort from Aspas was held before John Guidetti’s first time strike went wide.
Superb persistent from Rashford ended with his dink thwarted from close range by Alvarez who then denied Fellaini his second by turning the ball behind.
Half-time substitute Jozabed drove wide as Romero was stretched to his left, Guidetti headed wide from Mallo’s cross when he perhaps should’ve hit the target but they did grab their goal with five minutes remaining.
It was Theo Bongonda’s cross that was flicked in via the head of Roncaglia that set the tie up for a nervy finish.
Tempers were then flared as the goalscorer and Bailly saw straight red for a confrontation with Old Trafford raising the volume to see their side over the line.
Into the last of six additional minutes and Guidetti couldn’t direct the ball goalwards as United held out to reach a seventh European final.
As has so often happened with the club over the years, they have done it the hard way, but there is one hurdle left to conquer, when they face AFC Ajax in the Europa League final in Stockholm on Wednesday 24 May.
This was the 17th draw of a long season, and the 11th at home, but this particular one sees Jose Mourinho reach another final, where he will be hoping to secure this competition for the first time in the club’s illustrious history.
Before then remains the matter of three Premier League fixtures, with a trip to second place Tottenham Hotspur this Sunday at 4:30pm, in what will be the last match at White Hart Lane in its current format.
United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera; Lingard (Rooney 86), Fellaini, Pogba, Mkhitaryan (Carrick 77); Rashford (Smalling 89).
Subs not used: De Gea, Jones, Mata, Martial.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Celta Vigo: Alvarez; Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Jonny; Radoja (Bongonda 68), Hernandez; Aspas, Wass (Jozabed 46), Sisto (Beauvue 80); Guidetti.
Subs not used: Villar, Fontas, Diaz, Gomez.
Manager: Eduardo Berizzo