Category Archives: Europa League

Man United survives nervy Rostov encounter with Mata goal

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Manchester United edged past Russian team FC Rostov in a nervy encounter at Old Trafford to reach the Europa League quarter-finals with a 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) victory, thanks to a Juan Mata goal.

In what had been a largely frustrating night for United, the Manchester team dominated for large periods without really threatening and also lost midfielder Paul Pogba to a hamstring injury.

Their best chances before the goal came in the first half, when Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot wide when one-on-one and Ibrahimovic twice hit the post

In an almost lifeless game, United got their act together sufficiently to grab the goal midway through the second half.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started the move, rolling the ball out to Mkhitaryan on the right, then moving into the area for the return. All he got on the cross was a back-heel flick but it was enough to find Mata at the far post who was able to turn the ball over the line.

The Red Devils also needed two good saves from Sergio Romero late on as Rostov threatened to drag the game on to extra-time.

Starting in the place of first-team regular David De Gea, the United goalkeeper saved United from blushes by first keeping out Sardar Azmoun’s flicked header before thumping away Christian Noboa’s free-kick.

United will find out later today who they will play in the quarter-finals. Manager Jose Mourinho will no doubt will be holding out for a weaker team as the Premier League team will be keen on avoiding to rely solely on finishing at the top four for a Champions League spot.

Europa League: United claims away goal advantage against Rostov

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Manchester United was held to a 1-1 score by FC Rostov in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie in Russia, but claimed an important away goal advantage thanks to Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Red Devils faced a hard 3,750 mile to the Olymp-2 Stadium — which pitch conditions were criticised by United manager Jose Mourinho before the match. It was a tricky combination of high bounce, uneven turf and loose soil that could scatter whenever a pass was made.

The toll showed on the players as they could only produce a lacklustre showing in the first 30 minutes, but they got their goal as a fluid move began when record signing Paul Pogba turned infield and found Phil Jones.

The Englishman then swept the ball to Marouane Fellaini and the Belgian’s chested past a marker. When he recycled possession to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swede’s pass to Mkhitaryan allowed the Armenian to beat keeper Nikita Medvedev with ease.

The former Swedish international himself then fired over the crossbar in the second half, before Rostov forward Aleksandr Bukharov pounced on to Timofei Kalachev’s pass for the equaliser. Both sides then registered chances but failed to convert them before the final whistle sounded.

“We have tried to win, we have played as good as we could on this pitch,” Mkhitaryan said after the game. “I do not want to speak about the pitch because it was awful for both. For those watching it was not a very interesting game.”

Mourinho, on the other hand, was far more optimistic about the result.

“It was a very good performance in relation to the conditions. It was impossible to play better, impossible to play a passing game. We played what the game demanded and we played well. We made one defensive mistake.”

“l remember as a kid some matches like this in Portugal – non-league and amateur pitches. To see my players coping with it and the humility to fight for every ball is a good feeling for me.”

“(Now) We have an open result for the second leg with a little advantage for us. (And) There are no injuries.”

Manchester United would play Rostov again in the second leg next Thursday, this time at the considerably superior conditions at Old Trafford.

Tottenham exits Europa League as Alli sees red

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Tottenham Hotspur failed to chase their aggregate deficit against Gent, and will exit the Europa League second round after falling to a 2-2 draw (losing 3-2 on aggregate) as midfielder Dele Alli saw red.

Spurs were trailing 1-0 after the first leg of the last-32 tie, but looked prepared to right their failings as Christian Eriksen slipped an angled shot under Gent keeper Lovre Kalinic.

The visitors equalised through Harry Kane’s own goal, which left Spurs needing to score at least twice as the match approached half-time. However, few would have written off Spurs — but they would do so when the London was club reduced to 10 men after Alli was sent off for a recklessly high tackle.

Victor Wanyama curled one into the top-left corner to revive Spurs hopes briefly, only for substitute Jeremy Perbet to poke Gent into the last 16 with less than 10 minutes left.

The result meant Spurs’ elimination — and also that they have only reached the Europa League quarter-finals once in the past six seasons.

The only England team left in the tournament is Manchester United, who defeated French side Saint-Etienne 4-0 on aggregate, and will be in the last-16 draw.

As for Tottenham, who remain without a trophy since 2008, they will host Stoke City in the Premier League and focus their attention on trying to catch leaders Chelsea, even as their London rivals holds an insurmountable gap of ten league points against them.

Gladbach mounts second-half fightback to oust Fiorentina

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Borussia Monchengladbach triumphed against Serie A strongmen Fiorentina in one goal-laden second-half, scoring 3 goals in 13 second-half minutes to oust the Italian club by 4-2 (4-3 on aggregate).

But it was the Bundesliga team who started meekly, with sloppy defending allowing easy chances to the hosts, as they began with a charging run through the middle, and Federico Bernadeshchi finished a wonderful pass into his path perfectly.

Borussia looked all but out when Valero pounced on a comical mistake by Jannick Vestergaard to give the Serie A side a 3-0 advantage.

The mood was telling for Borussia; there was little enthusiasm amongst the visitors when Max Olivera pulled down his opponent in the box for team captain Lars Stindl to score from the spot.

However, they began to realise that they were onto something as just moments into the second half, Moenchengladbach quickly got a second when Stindl stabbed home at the back post from a corner.

By the 53rd minute, Stindl made his career’s first hat-trick and his side’s third by firing home Jonas Hoffman’s clever free-kick.

Fiorentina, attempting to find a way back into the game, found themselves in an unbelievable situation as Andreas Christensen headed in from close range to put Gladbach clearly in the lead, summing up a night to remember for the Bundesliga team.