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Juan Mata on target as Manchester United reach Europa League quarter-finals

The Spaniard bailed Jose Mourinho’s men out after United dominated the first half without scoring.

FOOTBALL 16/03/17 22:56
Juan Mata on target as Manchester United reach Europa League quarter-finals

Manchester United edged through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a narrow victory over Rostov.

After a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Russia, Juan Mata scored the only goal of the return match when there were 20 minutes remaining.

United dominated the first half without scoring but the second was more even and the hosts needed three fine stops from Sergio Romero to keep Rostov out.

Tweet of the match

Star man – Juan Mata

Juan Mata. It was fitting that it was United’s brightest attacking spark who scored the only goal. Mata had been the principal creative force in the first half before getting on the end of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s back-heel. Mata did all he could to create a goal with inch-perfect through balls for Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan but neither could capitalise.

Stat of the match

It is nearly five months since United conceded a European goal at Old Trafford. The only goal scored by the visitors in five matches so far in the Europa League came from old boy Robin van Persie for Fenerbahce on October 20.

View from the bench

Paul Pogba is substituted
(Nick Potts/EMPICS)

Progress to the last eight was the main goal for Jose Mourinho, with the tournament – and its Champions League place for next season – eminently winnable. United made it harder for themselves than they should have done by missing a couple of golden chances in the first half and there were hairy moments before Mata’s goal, with the back three of Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly not entirely convincing. The major negative was an apparent hamstring injury for Paul Pogba, who was forced off in the opening moments of the second half.

Ratings

Manchester United: Sergio Romero 7, Antonio Valencia 7, Eric Bailly 7, Chris Smalling 7, Marcos Rojo 7, Daley Blind 7, Paul Pogba 7, Ander Herrera 7, Juan Mata 8, Henrikh Mkhitaryan 7, Zlatan Ibrahimovic 7. Substitutes: Marouane Fellaini (for Pogba) 6, Phil Jones (for Blind) 6.

Rostov: Nikita Medvedev 6, Khoren Bayramyan 6, Miha Mevlja 7, Cesar Navas 7, Fedor Kudryashov 6, Denis Terentyev 6, Christian Noboa 7, Andrei Prepelita 6, Aleksandr Erokhin 6, Dmitri Poloz 6, Sardar Azmoun 6. Substitutes: Aleksandr Bukharov (for Azmoun) 6, Marko Devic (for Prepelita) 6, Igor Kireev (for Bayramyan) 6.

Who’s up next?

Middlesbrough's George Friend and Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan battle for the ball
(Martin Rickett/PA)

Middlesbrough v Manchester United (Premier League, March 19)

Krylya Sovetov v Rostov (Russian Premier League, March 19)

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