Europa League | Manchester United 2 Anderlecht 1
It was tense and extra-time was required, but Manchester United are in the Europa League semi-finals after securing a 3-2 aggregate win over Anderlecht at Old Trafford.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan broke the deadlock and Sofiane Hanni equalised, leading to a later-than-expected finish on Thursday night, but the Reds eventually went through thanks to Marcus Rashford’s winner.
Two sour notes were the injuries sustained by Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, yet qualification remains the most important thing and a place in Friday’s last-four draw in Nyon, Switzerland.
United began the night with an away-goals advantage following the 1-1 first-leg draw out in Belgium and, as such, Anderlecht had to score at least once at Old Trafford. The visitors showed their ambition in the opening three minutes, too, when Leander Dendoncker hit a powerful effort that flew over the bar.
Yet the Reds remained composed and took a nerve-easing lead in the 10th minute when Mkhitaryan drilled home from the edge of the penalty area, notching his fifth Europa League goal of the season. The Armenian almost claimed an assist a moment later, when his corner led to Paul Pogba’s header being saved by the Anderlecht goalkeeper Martinez Ruben, who later pulled off a wonder save to deny Jesse Lingard.
United’s good mood was tempered when Rojo was forced off on a stretcher after 23 minutes, which is a concern with his fellow centre-backs Chris Smalling and Phil Jones ruled out with injury until mid-May. Perhaps sensing a chance to capitalise on this blow, Anderlecht attacked and equalised in slightly fortuitous circumstances when Tielemans’ deflected shot cannoned off the bar into the path of Teodorczyk, whose scuffed effort then fell kindly for Hanni to rifle into the net.