Marcus Rashford scored an extra-time winner to send Manchester United into the last four, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered a potentially serious injury
Manchester United are into the last four of the Europa League thanks to the brilliant Marcus Rashford. Anderlecht were impressive but United were the more forceful side as the game wore on and were good value for the win in the end. The bad news is a potentially serious injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The good news is Marcus Rashford. Thanks for reading and emailing. Night.
ET 29 min: Martial’s got the ball in the Anderlecht now, after a moment of magic from Mkhitaryan, but the flag’s up. Anderlecht are still in this. Forward they go. Valencia doesn’t clear his lines and Obrodovic crosses to the far post, where Mbodji rises above Shaw and heads goalwards. Romero tips it over, but a goal-kick’s awarded.
ET 27 min: Bruno crosses from the right. Romero punches clear. Suddenly it’s panic stations at the back for United, who’ve dropped back and invited pressure.
ET 26 min: After a spot of head tennis on the edge of the United area, Acheampong gets the better of Bailly but heads straight at Romero from six yards out. What a chance.
ET 23 min: It’s weird that Marcus Rashford, a striker, scores when he’s played as a striker, not a winger. Work that out.
ET 20 min: Mkhitaryan finds Pogba in space on the right of the area, but the midfielder’s low effort is too careful and Ruben saves down to his right.
ET 18 min: What a prospect this kid is. But as it stands, Anderlecht still just need one goal to knock United out. It’s bound to be a nervy finish at Old Trafford.
The pressure finally pays off and it’s thanks to a brilliant piece of improvisation from Marcus Rashford. Marouane Fellaini, so dangerous in the air, nods down to him. He’s still got plenty of work to do, but he earns a sight of goal with a wonderful backheeled turn on to his left foot, from where he slithers a low shot to Ruben’s right to break Anderlecht’s stout resistance!
ET 16 min: Anderlecht get the final period of this match underway.
Fifteen more minutes without a goal and we’ll have penalties.
ET 15 min: Anderlecht attack for the first time in a while. Tielemans has a dig from 25 yards. His crisp effort’s straight at Romero, who almost gifts Anderlecht a goal by spilling it, only to recover quickly to smother the loose ball.
ET 14 min: Anderlecht have completely run out of gas. Is it only a matter of time for United?
ET 13 min: Martial’s cross, Fellaini’s header, Rashford’s shot, Dendoncker’s block.
ET 11 min: Pogba’s got the ball in the Anderlecht net, but the whistle had gone for a foul by Fellaini, who was all over Spajic as he nodded the ball down. It looks like a soft decision. Spajic wasn’t really jumping.
ET 9 min: Acheampong has lost the ball every time he’s had it since the start of the second half. He’s ruined so many Anderlecht attacks.
ET 8 min: Rashford dinks the free-kick into the six-yard box. Fellaini looks certain to nod it in but Spajic Chiellinis it away.
ET 7 min: Appiah’s booked for bringing down Rashford on the edge of the area on the left.
ET 6 min: Mkhitaryan zigzags through the middle and tries to release Rashford, but Mbodji’s there.
ET 4 min: Obradovic’s shot actually seemed to come off an Anderlecht player, so it should have been a goal-kick to United. Tielemans decides to pull it back low from the right to Stanciu, but he balloons his shot into the Stretford End. “Maybe Zlatan going down is a good thing: forces Mourinho to use the team/tactics versus Chelsea,” says Michael Meagher. “A bit like when Balotelli got himself sent off against Arsenal a few seasons back and basically suspended for the remainder of the season forcing Mancini to eat humble pie and start picking Tevez again and going on to win the league.”
ET 3 min: Mkhitaryan’s deflected shot from 25 yards flies straight at Ruben. Up the other end, Obradovic’s deflected shot whistles inches past the left post.
ET 2 min: Rashford darts down the right, leaves his marker on the floor and sends a rabona cross to the far post. Pogba goes for the stunning overhead kick, but it’s blocked by Spajic! What a goal that would have been! “Wow!” says Gloria Greppi. “Celta the only team through w/o ET.”
ET 1 min: Manchester United get extra-time underway. “I’m no doctor but that was a pretty bad looking hyper-extension for Zlatan,” says JR in Illinois. “Wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s banjaxed his ACL.” The good news is he walked off.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has walked off. At least he didn’t need a stretcher. Anthony Martial replaces him.
We will have extra-time. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who appears to have twisted his right knee, is still down. The physios are on.
90 min+2: Ibrahimovic goes down in the Anderlecht area - no penalty - and lands awkwardly. He looks hurt.
90 min+1: “The TV just showed Mourinho talking to Shaw, presumably to give him instructions,” says JR in Illinois. “Not sure why he needs to tell him verbally if his brain is controlling Shaw anyway.”
90 min: There will be two added minutes.
89 min: Ibrahimovic scoops a pass inside Appiah, so skilfully, but Rashford shoots into the side netting. They do waste chances.
88 min: Anderlecht’s threat has faded in the past 20 minutes, though. I’ve asked Kevin Keegan and he says there’s only one winner here (Manchester United).
87 min: Not much is happening. We’re drifting towards extra-time.
83 min: Acheampong appears to be struggling with a bit of cramp. Anderlecht have used all of their subs.
82 min: With a clever touch, Carrick creates space in the middle and then releases Ibrahimovic with a perceptive pass. Unmarked 15 yards out, he slices his shot wide by quite a lengthy margin.
81 min: Tielemans sends a free-kick from the right straight to Romero. Anderlecht’s set-pieces in the second half have been appalling.
80 min: A Valencia cross finds Ibrahimovic. He volleys well wide.
79 min: Anderlecht make their final change, Thelin replacing the tiring Theodorczyk.
78 min: Rashford curls a cross into the area. Ruben comes for it, but it’s headed over by one of his defenders. From the resulting corner, Pogba should score. The ball lands on his right foot, six yards out, and he volleys embarrassingly high!
75 min: Valencia’s cross is headed behind by Spajic. United are really testing Anderlecht in the air now. If only Mourinho could get Robert Huth on.
73 min: “Given the constraints Ben Watson pointed out, Anderlecht’s tactic seems to have been to raid Romanian football for its talent,” notes Ian Copestake. They’ll get nowhere signing foreigners.
72 min: Pogba launches a pass over the top to Ibrahimovic. He brings it down before tumbling with Mbodji nearby. The referee waves him back to his feet.
71 min: Fellaini is making a difference in the Anderlecht box now. He throws himself at a cross from the right and the ball lands at the feet of the unmarked Ibrahimovic. He controls, opens up his body and tries to stroke the ball into the far corner, but he shoots too close to Ruben and Anderlecht scramble it away!
69 min: A corner to Anderlecht on the left. It’s a waste, hit straight to the near post. United hoof it away and Appiah, the last man, looks panicky as Rashford closes him down. The only thing to do is let the ball bounce and make a complete dog’s dinner of his clearance, a comical slice that sends Rashford through on goal. This should be the moment for United, but Rashford takes a slightly heavy touch and although he goes round Ruben, he’s forced too wide. The goal’s gaping, but Rashford has to chase the ball, reset himself and go again, by which time Appiah’s recovered to make a timely intervention.
68 min: Can Manchester United bring on Viktor Kassai?
65 min: Manchester United, in need of a goal, have one more change to make. Anthony Martial is still on the bench. Watch this space. Back on the pitch, United have become direct. Ibrahimovic nods down to Rashford and space opens up for him, but he wallops one wide from 20 yards.
64 min: Anderlecht make two changes. Massimo Bruno replaces Alexandru Chipciu and Nicolae Stanciu is on for the excellent Sofiane Hanni.
63 min: From the resulting corner, Fellaini bounces a header straight at Ruben. “As forecast: hoofball,” says Geoff Wignall.
62 min: Valencia lifts a cross towards Fellaini. It’s headed away, as far as Rashford, whose volley’s deflected over.
60 min: Marouane Fellaini replaces Jesse Lingard. The Anderlecht fans welcome the former Standard Liege man with a chorus of boos. I wonder how United will approach the final 30 minutes. Fellaini is presumably on for his creative qualities.
59 min: Lingard knocks a pass straight out of play. Who’s next?
58 min: Big Marouane is going to come on in a minute. Meanwhile, Shaw accidentally selects power drive and punts a pass down the line straight out for a goal-kick.
57 min: The home fans howl as Pogba, attempting to force the issue, knocks a poor pass straight through to Ruben.
54 min: A fortunate ricochet runs for Obradovic down the left. He’s got plenty of space here. His cross is pushed out by Romero, but Tielemans, who’s giving United’s midfield the runaround at times, is on hand to gather possession. He plays at his own pace, this kid. Eventually he slides a pass down the right for the overlapping Chipciu. His cross is headed straight at Romero by Teodorczyk, who couldn’t generate enough power.
53 min: Chipciu, miles out, shoots well wide. That was wasteful. The shot came after another hypnotic spell of Anderlecht possession, however, offering further evidence of their pleasing confidence. It’s never not enjoyable to see a young side play this way.
49 min: Rashford slips a fine pass through to the raiding Luke Shaw, who reaches the byline and pulls the ball across into the six-yard box. Lingard throws himself at it in the Gazza at Euro 96 style, but he’s under telling pressure from Obradovic and somehow studs wide from all of three yards out! How on earth did that stay out? I realise I’m supposed to be telling you how, but you get the point.
48 min: Tielemans sprays a pass to Teodorczyk, who rolls Valencia and makes towards the United goal. Valencia hares back, though, holds him up and diverts his shot wide for a corner, which Romero punches away.
47 min: Luke Shaw forces Appiah to concede a corner on the left. Rashford’s delivery is headed away at the near post.
46 min: Anderlecht get the second half underway.
“Great to see an impressive Anderlecht,” says Ben Watson. “One of the real casualties of the overwhelming strength of the big four leagues, and their ability to buy up all available global talent, has been the relative quality of the top clubs of the smaller nations. Surely, given the quality of the current batch of Belgian players, 20 years ago Anderlecht would have been competing for the European Cup. Same has been true for the relative power of S.Lisbon, R Vienna, D Kiev etc. Great clubs. Real shame for Euro club football.”
“I can’t help but think that Luke Shaw pulled back a little when he made that move inside because it looked it was shaping up to be repeat of the play that broke his leg,” says Patrick Dwyer. “It was a fantastic first touch that moved past one defender, but there was no follow through on his shot. There was another defender closing him down, which caused him to deliver a weak shot…too bad too, because that would have been a spectacular goal.”
“Time perhaps for Mourinho to hook the Swedish statue and play his best centre forward in his rightful position?” says Geoff Wignall. “After terrorising the Chelsea defence I’m sure he could trouble Anderlecht’s. Plus it’d encourage the others to play proper football.It’d be no surprise to see Fellaini and hoofball instead though.”
“Why would Brian Russell describe Wayne Rooney as ‘semi-detached’, as if he were a house?” says Peter Oh. “... Oh.”
Everything seemed to be going to plan for Manchester United when Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave them an early lead, but they’re actually fairly fortunate to be level at the break. Sofiane Hanni’s equaliser is the least Anderlecht deserve. The Belgians have impressed. United have been below par.
45 min+1: In the first of two minutes of added time, Anderlecht almost score again. Acheampong holds it up in the United area and lays the ball back to Teodorczyk on the right. The striker’s return pass takes a deflection and squirts through to Hanni, who skips round Romero, six yards out, only for his touch to run out of play. Romero did well not to bring him down.
43 min: United amble up field, Lingard and Valencia combining to send Pogba on a saunter through the middle. Pogba scoops a pass towards Mkhitayran, who takes it down with a splendid touch before blazing high and wide from 20 yards.
41 min: “I was mildly surprised to see Wayne Rooney on the bench, not because he doesn’t merit it but because he just seems to be such a semi-detatched member of the Man Utd squad that I’d forgotten he was still playing,” says Brian Russell. “It’s been quite a fall for Wayne. What do you think he’ll do in the summer?” It’s between Magaluf and Vegas. More when we know more.
40 min: Shaw scoots inside from the left, onto his right foot, but shoots straight at Ruben. Jose Mourinho wasn’t thinking hard enough there.
39 min: Shaw finds Pogba, 25 yards out, but his drive’s blocked.
37 min: Pogba has a pop from 30 yards. Into the top tier it goes. “Fascinating though this game might be, one issue the boys in the studio will not be raising is why hair-product makers love footballers?” says Ian Copestake. “Daley Blind prepared to come on by taking a shot of treacly sweet go-faster beverage before putting the same liquid through his barnet.”
36 min: Rashford, United’s most threatening player, steams past Appiah on the left and forces Ruben to save his cross-shot at his near post.
33 min: Anderlecht have been mightily impressive since going behind. In fact, save for the three minutes that followed United’s goal, they’ve been excellent since the first whistle. They play fine football. Dendoncker and Tielemans are very good.
This has been coming. The move’s started by a superb cross-field pass from left to right by Dendoncker, who superbly picks out Chipciu. His cross is headed away by Blind, but only as far as Tielemans. Where’s the United midfield? Not here, that’s where. Tielemans shoots with his left foot and the slightest of deflections diverts the ball over Romero and against the face of the bar. The rebound bounces down to the onside Teodorczyk and although he can’t sort out his feet, the ball runs kindly for Hanni, who wallops it home. This tie is level.
30 min: Ibrahimovic cleverly sends Shaw running into space down the left, behind Appiah. His cross is behind Lingard, though.
29 min: Tielemans curls the free-kick over the wall, but it lacks pace and power, making it an easy save for Romero.
28 min: Pogba trips Hanni 25 yards from goal. United are missing Ander Herrera’s midfield energy at the moment.
27 min: Appiah bursts through on the right, away from Daley Blind, and shuffles the ball inside to Dendoncker. He shoots with the inside of his right foot, but bends the ball past the far post from 18 yards. For some reason, a corner’s awarded. Luckily for all laundry bins inside Old Trafford, nothing comes from the resulting delivery.
26 min: Anderlecht are enjoying a decent spell at the moment. Some of the intensity has faded from United’s game.
23 min: Rojo went down again after that chance for Acheampong, which probably explains the hesitant defending that let the Anderlecht winger in. He’s gone off on a stretcher. Daley Blind replaces him and another defensive injury is the last thing Jose Mourinho needs, especially given how well Rojo has played recently.
21 min: A throw down the Anderlecht left. Valencia heads it back and one of Rojo or Bailly should deal with it. Instead it’s a mess. Acheampong nips in between them and touches the ball into the wide open space in front of him. All of a sudden, he’s through on goal. But Romero closes down the angles well and manages to get a vital touch on the winger’s effort, taking it into the side netting. What a let-off for United.
20 min: After a lengthy spot of treatment, Rojo is back on his feet. He’s still limping, though, and feeling his knee.
18 min: Rojo and Chipciu are both down after a 50-50 challenge. Rojo looks to have come off worse.
16 min: Hanni gets away from Rojo in the middle of United’s half. He looks up and tries to pick out Acheampong with a raking pass over to the left, but Valencia defends solidly again.
13 min: Manchester United are tearing Anderlecht apart now. They fancy a second goal. Anderlecht are rocking. Lingard has a go now, curling towards the far corner from the left, but Ruben excels himself again, diving to his left to push it away for another United corner. This one comes to nothing.
12 min: A corner to United on the right. It’s sent to the far post by Mkhitaryan and Pogba rises highest, only for Ruben to palm his header over.
11 min: Rashford’s using his pace now, steaming past Tielemans, who hauls him down. He’s booked. He’ll miss the first leg of the semi if Anderlecht get through.
Overhyped waste of money and walking haircut Paul Pogba sends Marcus Rashford hurtling clear down the left with a peach of a pass. It’s a beauty from Pogba, brilliantly angled along the floor, and Rashford doesn’t have to break stride. He tries to tee up Ibrahimovic in the middle, but his cross is blocked. It comes back to him, though, and he has the presence of mind to knock it inside to Mkhitaryan, who takes a touch before hammering a low drive past Ruben! That should settle United’s nerves.
9 min: Anderlecht have come to play. Teodorczyk almost latches on to a ball over the lop, but he can’t bring it down. It skids through to Romero. Anderlecht just come straight back at United, though, and Shaw has to defend well on the left to stop Spajic. Excellent telepathy from Jose Mourinho.
7 min: Anderlecht, breezy and confident, are playing some neat football. Hanni tries to play Acheampong in, but Valencia is alert and mops up.
5 min: The visiting Anderlecht fans are making plenty of noise. “Has Jose spent £100m for a player he hopes to groom into the new Michael Carrick?” says David Flynn. “I guess it makes more sense than Ed Woodward scouring Europe before deciding to offer Ed Woodward £40m for Daley Blind.”
3 min: Anderlecht set off on a sortie down the left, Acheampong running at Valencia, cutting inside, veering left, driving a ball into the area. Rojo clears. Anderlecht continue to play their football. Dendoncker, the scorer of their goal last week, pops up behind Carrick and Pogba, sizes up the angles and decides to shoot from 30 yards. His effort whistles inches over the bar, Romero not entirely comfortable as he watches it fizz by.
And we’re off! Manchester United, in their red shirts and white shorts, get the game underway. They’re kicking from left to right in the first half and they’re immediately on the attack. Mkhitaryan squeezes a pass through to Lingard on the right, but he can’t find Ibrahimovic at the far post.
Here come the teams, marching out at Old Trafford. They’ll be hoping that these occasions take place on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings next year. “I’ve been fortunate enough to bag a ticket to the final this year,” says Patrick Hull. “Being a Bristol Rovers fan I don’t have a dog in the fight, but which two teams left do you think would put on the best show in Stockholm? Any reasons to support a particular team on to glory are welcome.”
Manchester United versus Lyon would be good.
After Sunday’s win over Chelsea, have Manchester United seen the future without Zlatan Ibrahimovic? On BT Sport, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen both reckon the future looks a lot like Marcus Rashford.
Jose Mourinho speaks about his changes.“It is impossible to play every match unless you are the only central defenders we have in the team. We have a lot of matches. Great intensity, not just physically but mentally. It is important to do some rotation because on Sunday we have another important match. If we have the same kind of attitude, pressing high, being strong, being intense, recover the ball as fast as possible, it is easy for the attacking players to have more in the ball. In the end it is a collective instinct.”
“I’m a life long man utd fan,” says Phillip Brennan. “I began to read the preamble then left it. The team news was all I needed.”
And how have the past 12 years supporting Manchester United been for you?
Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Shaw; Carrick, Pogba; Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Rashford; Ibrahimovic. Subs: De Gea, Blind, Fellaini, Herrera, Young, Martial, Rooney.
Anderlecht: Ruben; Appiah, Kara, Spajic, Obradovic; Tielemans, Dendoncker; Hanni, Chipciu, Acheampong; Teodorczyk Subs: Boeckx, Deschacht, Bruno, Nuytinck, Capel, Kiese Thelin, Stanciu.
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain).
Hello. If there’s anything to be learnt from the fraternal squabbling between Chuck and Jimmy McGill, it’s that holding a person to what they say into a tape recorder is just cruel. So while Jose Mourinho is the man who said the following about Rafa Benitez bringing the Europa League to Chelsea in 2013 – “I don’t want to win the Europa League. It would be a big disappointment for me. I don’t want my players to feel the Europa League is our competition” – it’s also true that people either have to adapt to a change in their circumstances or drown in their own pride and delusion.
The primary target for Manchester United at the start of the season, no matter what Jose Mourinho will tell us now, was not to win the Europa League. It would have been a lovely bonus, sure, but after signing Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the main focus for a manager with as much as a lust for winning as Mourinho and a club as successful as United was to challenge for the Premier League. That they haven’t come close to doing so must rank as a disappointment, though it would have been easier to take if they looked like re-asserting themselves as a top four force again. Sunday’s win over Chelsea was a big step in the right direction. It was probably their best performance since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, one that was full of youthful pace, energy, inventiveness and desire. But as it is, despite that win and despite a long unbeaten run which suggests that Mourinho has hardened this squad’s mentality, chances are they’ll be finishing fifth at most, which leaves the Europa League as their likeliest route back into the Champions League.
Hey, you take what you can get, and not just because you’d have to be a weirdo to turn down the chance to win a European trophy. There are worse places for a football club to be - hello, Francesco Becchetti - and to take the pragmatic view, this is what United need. The Thursday night slog has been and will continue to be an inconvenience for a few more weeks. Games against FC Zorya, FC Rostov and St Etienne don’t exactly set the pulse racing in the way visits from Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Leicester City do. But if United keep going, the reward will be worth it. For all that they’ve remained a money-making machine in these relatively lean years, the rules of modern football dictate that a club of this size has to be in the Champions League.
There’s still work to be done, though, if they’re to make it into the last four and edge close to the final in Stockholm on 24 May. They’re in control of this quarter-final after last week’s 1-1 draw away to Anderlecht. But the Belgians wouldn’t be the first team to capitalise on United’s lack of ruthlessness and cohesion this season. Forget about what Mourinho said at the expense of Benitez four years ago, he’ll just be hoping this doesn’t turn into another occasion when he finds himself bemoaning his team’s finishing.
Kick-off: 8.05pm BST.