Premier League | March 19, 2017 | Riverside Stadium | Attendance: 32,689 | Scorers: Fellaini 30min, Lingard 62min, Valencia 90+3min; Gestede 77 min
Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a hard-fought 3-1 triumph over relegation-threatened Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, becoming the first club to record 600 Premier League victories in the process.
Sorry I’m late reporting on our latest victory but Manchester United moved up to fifth (5th) position in the Premier League table after a 3-1 away win at Middlesbrough on Sunday afternoon – and I was glad we did win. Marouane Fellaini gave United a half-time lead with a header after a superb cross from Ashley Young.
Possession: Middlesbrough 61% United 39%
Shots at goal: Middlesbrough 5 United 10
Shots on target: Middlesbrough 1 United 4
Corners: Middlesbrough 4 United 3
Photo: Jesse Lingard unleashed a fierce shot from 25 yards that curled into the top corner to give United a crucial 2-0 lead
Man of the Match Jesse Lingard doubled United’s advantage, embarking on a solo run before unleashing a venomous strike into the top corner from outside the area. The hosts hit back through substitute Rudy Gestede and pressed for a late equalizer, but Antonio Valencia added a third in stoppage time after a terrible mistake by former Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
United now have “two doors open” to the Champions League with a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough. Mourinho had claimed that a draw with Middlesbrough would be a good result given United’s hectic schedule, and he was forced into fielding a makeshift side at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday due to injuries and suspensions, especially of Swedish maestro Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The manager’s faith in his fringe players was rewarded, though, with Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard opening up a two-goal lead before Antonio Valencia made the points safe after Rudy Gestede had halved the deficit.
With United now just three points outside the top four and into the quarter-finals of the Europa League, Mourinho is delighted to have more than one route to a Champions League return available.
“I’m super happy,” he told BBC Sport. “The attitude of the boys was magnificent. I made them feel important, trusted.
“We organized the team to come here and do what we did until the second goal: defend well, don’t concede, be dangerous on the counter-attack, play with the fast boys in front.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho insists that, if he had the choice, he would rather win the Europa League than finish in the top four of the Premier League as the Reds juggle the busy fixture schedule of both competitions.
The boss was speaking to MUTV (as reported by MANUTD) and other reporters following Sunday’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium and admits the Europa League is a competition he rates highly.
Now the Reds are in the quarter-finals in Europe, there is a growing feeling among the fans that Mourinho’s men can go all the way to the final on 24 May, with chants of “Follow, follow, follow, ‘cos United are going to Stockholm” ringing around the away end on Teesside.
Possession: Middlesbrough 64% United 36%
Shots at goal: Middlesbrough 10 United 14
Shots on target: Middlesbrough 3 United 6
Corners: Middlesbrough 8 United 3
Mourinho believes that winning another trophy has added value to finishing fourth in the top flight – and I agree with him, in toto!
United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Bailly, Young, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata (Rojo 69), Lingard (Martial 80), Rashford, (Darmian 94).
Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw, Mkhitaryan.
Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Espinosa, Gibson, Fabio, De Roon, Clayton, Leadbitter (Gestede 67), Ramirez (Traore 67), Downing, Negredo.
Subs not used: Guzan, Stuani, Fry, Guedioura, Forshaw.
Many United players are billed to play in their national teams, two matches to be precise. When they come back United will play West Brom on next Saturday and the Europa League is coming pretty soon, again.
Up Man U!