Match Report: Manchester United 1-1 Celta Vigo (2-1 AGG)
- Fellaini seals Stockholm place for Manchester United after yet another unconvincing 1-1 draw at Old Trafford
With Jose Mourinho firmly placing all of his eggs in one basket, the pressure was on at Old Trafford to secure a place in the Europa League final.
United looked far from convincing, as they have done for much of their Europa League campaign, as they struggled to contain a spirited Celta Vigo side that looked a completely different proposition from the one United met at the Estadio Balaidos a week prior.
They began brightly, with quick, neat passing around the United penalty area, drawing audible groans from the home crowd. These intensified after Iago Aspas, who was targeted all night by the home fans due to his Liverpool connection, cut inside and fired a warning shot at Sergio Romero.
This continued until the 17th minute, when Marcus Rashford continued his best David Beckham impression, following on from last week’s curling free kick, with a pin point cross that found Marouane Fellani at the back post. The big Belgian duly nodded home to soothe some of the nerves around Old Trafford and to some, perhaps justify his selection.
With one foot in the final, United really struggled to take control of the game. Familiar foe, Pione Sisto tried his luck twice from distance, ensuring Sergio Romero remained on his toes.
Hugo Mallo fired a cross low into the United penalty area 24 seconds into the second half, forcing Romero to get down smartly. Henrikh Mkhitaryan almost doubled United’s lead at the other end, with a rasping effort that looked destined for the top corner, if not for the reflexes of Celta keeper Alvarez.
Celta continued to probe throughout the second half, looking for one of two away goals needed to take them through to the final. Former Manchester City striker John Guidetti should really have scored but he was unable to hit the target with his free header, leaving the forward with his head firmly in his hands.
Spurred on the boisterous away support, the visitors kept on chipping away, and finally equalised in the 85th minute, through a Facundo Roncaglia header. No less than Celta Vigo deserved.
The tension in the ground was almost palpable, and this spilled onto the pitch in the 87th minute leading to dismissals on both sides. Eric Bailly raised his hands towards Guidetti, who collapsed to the floor making the most of the minimal contact. This provoked a furious reaction from Celta goal scorer Roncaglia, who lashed out in retaliation, resulting in his dismissal. Bailly’s suspension is something of an unwelcome headache for Mourinho, who’s squad has been ravaged through injury in recent months.
Guidetti missed a golden chance with the last kick of the game to send the Spanish outfit to the final. This rounded off a rather miserable return to Manchester for the striker, who in the pre- match build up warned that the city would be Sky Blue.
Manchester United now advance to Stockholm, where they will meet a young Ajax side who scraped past Lyon (5-4 on aggregate). Clear improvement will be needed if United are to secure Champion’s League football next season and win the one trophy that has eluded the club in its illustrious history.