A magical free-kick from Marcus Rashford guides Manchester United into the second leg with a 1-0 lead.
Manchester United had a series of chances in the first half, which were all denied by Celta Vigo goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez. The Celta shot stopper pulled off three superb stops to deny Rashford, Mkhitaryan and Lingard.
Romero was tested only once by the hosts when Sisto’s effort deflected towards goal and was tipped over by the Argentine.
It took 67 minutes for United to break the hosts resistance, although they had chances to win the game by a considerable margin.
Celta Vigo’s star men failed to make an impact on the game, despite the hype in the pre-match build-up. The likes of Iago Aspas, Guidetti and Sisto struggled with the physical nature of United’s defence.
Manchester United have scored the important away goal heading into next Thursday’s second leg at Old Trafford.
Celta Vigo played in an organized and efficient fashion in the first half, which limited Manchester United’s attacking chances. They also showed early signs of attacking intent themselves by pressing high and playing Wass just in behind Guidetti. Radoja sat deep in central midfield, which allowed Wass and Hernandez with more freedom in the final third.
The practically set-up a front five for the hosts in offensive situations but they lacked composure when given the opportunity to threaten Romero. Wass coasted in behind at the far post to head wide and Sisto struck tamely straight at the Argentine international.
Manchester United countered Celta’s attacking tactics by sitting slightly deeper to ensure they didn’t risk being outnumbered. Paul Pogba was then used as an attacking outlet to make penetrating and attacking runs to create offensive moves.
Although Celta Vigo limited Manchester United’s activity in the final third, they had a trustworthy pair of hands in between the sticks. Sergio Alvarez made three important stops in the first half to thwart Manchester United.
Rashford struck a rasping effort towards the top corner, which was beaten out of the air by the Celta shot stopper. He also went onto deny He also went onto deny Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard in the later stages of the first half.
Celta Vigo started the second half in promising fashion and Manchester United failed to press the ball at the beginning of the second period. This allowed Wass with the space to deliver the ball into the penalty area but Aspas could only glance his header wide.
Manchester United’s tactic of having Marcus Rashford on corner duties is something that is clearly not working. He could add a threat inside the penalty area and his deliveries have been less than impressive.
Romero was tested only once by Celta Vigo but it was considerably close to beating the Argentine international. Former Midtjylland winger Sisto, who scored twice against Manchester United last season, had a massive deflection send his effort looping towards the underside of the crossbar. Romero anticipated his frightening strike to perfection and lifted the ball over the woodwork.
Manchester United eventually broke the dead lock on 67 minutes when a moment of brilliance from Marcus Rashford beat Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez. Alvarez took a detrimental step to his left hand side, which formed space for Rashford to curl a magnificent free-kick into the far top corner.
Rashford stepped up his game in the second half and took more responsibility in the final third. The Englishman took up deeper positions and collected the ball in the aim to drive at Celta’s defence. This proved effective when the 19-year-old won the foul, which led to his winning free-kick.
United sat very deep in the closing 15 minutes, building a brick wall to practically park the bus in front of Celta Vigo’s attack. The hosts attempted to penetrate and drive the ball forward but found themselves being outnumbered by United’s defensive players.
Europa League is United’s Likeliest Route into Champions League
Manchester United’s grip on the top four is gradually slipping and their Europa League dreams are their likeliest route into the Champions League. Tonight’s victory was United’s 58th fixture in all competitions and the sheer amount of games is beginning to take their toll on Mourinho’s men.
The injury list is rapidly building at Old Trafford and this trend continued this evening in the late stages of the second half. Marcus Rashford gingerly limped off the pitch in the 79th minute and substitute Young was forced off with a suspected hamstring injury.
They currently have the most players unavailable due to injuries in the Premier League. Ten players are currently on their injured and suspended list. Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Luke Shaw all feature on this growing list.
Despite the sheer amount of absentees; Bailley, Smalling and Pogba returned this evening in Vigo. Phil Jones has also returned to training, meaning players should be available for Sunday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal.
United’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League by finishing in the top four are incredibly slim. Trips to Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton lie ahead and Sunday’s draw at Swansea have practically ended their hopes in my opinion.
|RB||Mallo (90 +1)||6|
|LW||Beauvue (90 +1)||n/a|
|LW||Young (78) (Off – 89)||6|