Europa League | Thursday, 11 May 2017 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,138 | Scorers: Fellaini 17min, Roncaglia 85min.
Manchester United booked a place against Ajax in the UEFA Europa League final on 24 May in Stockholm, Sweden after a competitive 1-1 draw against Celta Vigo at Old Trafford on Thursday.
A first-half header from Marouane Fellaini was cancelled out by Facundo Roncaglia four minutes from end time. However, the draw ensured United’s safe passage to Sweden for the UEFA Europa League final, after a dramatic semi-final second leg which ended with both sides reduced to 10 men after Roncaglia and Eric Bailly were sent off following a flare-up after the equalizer.
That goal ignited Old Trafford and the hosts could have doubled their lead minutes later as Rashford’s clever turn of pace set him free once more but the ball was pinched off his toe as he looked to strike at goal.
Possession: Manchester United 38% Celta Vigo 62%
Shots: United 6 Celta Vigo 7
Shots on target: Manchester United 1 Celta Vigo 3
Corners: Manchester United 1 Celta Vigo 4
The Spanish team began the second half as they did the first, taking the game to United and were almost level inside 60 seconds of the restart as their right-back and captain Mallo almost caught Romero out with a swift cross across the box from the right.
Tempers flared up from both sets of players and it spilled over and following a melee, referee Ovidiu Hategan sent both United’s defender Bailly and Celta’s goal scorer Roncaglia off.
The two players continued their war of words as they headed down the tunnel, disappearing from view, as the exciting game continued.
Possession: Manchester United 33% Celta Vigo 67%
Shots: Manchester United 11 Celta Vigo 16
Shots on target: Manchester United 4 Celta Vigo 6
Corners: Manchester United 4 Celta Vigo 8
Manchester United: Romero; Valencia (c), Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Fellaini, Herrera; Mkhitaryan (Carrick 77), Pogba, Lingard (Rooney 85), Rashford (Smalling 89).
Substitutes not used: De Gea, Jones, Mata, Martial.
Booked: Blind, Herrera.
Sent Off: Bailly.
Celta Vigo: Alvarez, Mallo (c), Cabral, Roncaglia, Jonny, Radoja (Bongonda 68), Hernandez, Wass (Jozabed 46), Iago Aspas, Sisto (Beauvue 80), Guidetti.
Substitutes not used: Villar, Fontas Prat, Diaz, Gomez.
Sent Off: Roncaglia.
MOURINHO THRILLED AS UNITED REACH FINAL
United boss Jose Mourinho was delighted after Manchester United overcame Celta Vigo in dramatic fashion on Thursday night to reach the Europa League final later this month.
DIFFICULT SECOND LEG – AS EXPECTED
“I could guess from the first match because it was similar to Anderlecht. When you are the best team by far in the first leg, you have to kill everything in the first leg. We don’t because we never kill, we never score goals related to the chances we have. And then we got an open game at home with all the pressure on our side with them completely free of pressure and responsibility and they gave us a very hard match.”
RESPECT FOR CELTA VIGO
“They came as heroes, a small city, a small club that did amazingly well, with nothing to lose. So [they] dominated by the mental point of view – they did very well, they gave us a very difficult second half. So we had to suffer until the end and everything was open until the last second. The boys didn’t play a phenomenal match but they fought, they gave everything they had to give and I’m really pleased for them because 14 matches and we are in the final so it’s good.”
BAILLY SENT OFF AND MISSES THE FINAL
“I didn’t see the incident but he was phenomenal. The game was emotional until the end for everyone. Some kept their control in a better way than others. And I think it was the wrong card. The wrong card is not new in this kind of situation and probably Eric was a bit naive. I don’t know [the details of] the incident but we have lost a very important player for the final and we don’t have many.”
AJAX v UNITED IN STOCKHOLM
“First of all two monsters – the history of Manchester United and the history of Ajax is amazing. But for us [if we win] it’s a trophy and the Champions League for next season. Finals are always fun, and the Europa League is a big, beautiful competition.”
MANAGERIAL RECORD V AJAX – PLAYED 6, WON 6
“It means nothing. A final is a final and I played Ajax with Real Madrid all the six matches. It will be difficult. They are a young team, strong team and they finished their league this weekend.”
AJAX CAN REST WHILE UNITED WORK AND PLAY
“They will have 12 days to prepare for the final and we will have three matches in the Premier League to play with a group of 15-16 players after a crazy season with so many matches. We have played so many matches because we progressed to two finals and the last 16 in the FA Cup. I have to say thank you to [referee] Michael Oliver for that red card to Ander Herrera because we couldn’t survive going further in the FA Cup. So let’s try to prepare the team as best we can.”
BETTER TO QUALIFY FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE THIS WAY
“Of course it’s better because it’s a trophy. It’s the second trophy of course in Europe and it’s an important trophy. It gives you the European Super Cup to play for in August so it’s a big, big match for us in Stockholm.”
EUROPA LEAGUE + EFL CUP = SUCCESSFUL FIRST SEASON?
“I am more than happy, more than happy if we win the Europa League. It was so difficult, so hard for me this season, so if we manage to do that it will be amazing.”
AND AFTER THE FINAL…?
“It’s the last match of our season, but I feel sorry for my boys who have to play the international games after. They should go to a spa after almost 70 matches, not go to their national teams.”
Sergio Romero should be the first name on Manchester United’s teamsheet for the Europa League final on 24 May, after Jose Mourinho revealed he will select the Argentina international ahead of regular goalkeeper David De Gea.
The decision will reward Romero for his role in helping the Reds to reach the showpiece fixture. Usually De Gea’s deputy, he stepped up to keep clean sheets in the last two group games in the competition, at home to Feyenoord (4-0) and away to Zorya Luhansk (2-0), and also started all of the eight knockout matches against Saint Etienne, Rostov, Anderlecht and, latterly, Celta Vigo. “There was no dilemma,” insisted Mourinho, when asked about his choice after Thursday’s second-leg win over Celta.
“They are two fantastic goalkeepers. I never saw, in all my career, two goalkeepers who are such friends because it’s a position where you always have a little bit of rivalry, especially if they are both at the same kind of level.
“We are speaking about Argentina’s national goalkeeper and Spain’s national goalkeeper but they are such friends and support each other all the time. I have never seen a bad face. I have always seen them supporting each other.
“I think it’s fair Sergio is going to play in the final and David accepts that, especially because David has played three Europa League matches already – two against Fenerbahce and one against Feyenoord – and so if we win the trophy, David wins the trophy too.
“If everything goes normally, and we have no problems, Sergio plays in the final.”
Romero has now made 26 appearances for United since his arrival from Italian club Sampdoria in the summer of 2015 with more than half of them, 14, coming in European competition. His five Premier League outings include one under Mourinho, last month’s 3-0 win at Sunderland, when De Gea had “a small problem” and Joel Pereira, tipped by the Reds boss to be a future Portugal no.1, was on the bench as cover.
Stockholm, here we come! Ha! Ha!! Ha!!!
Up Man U!