Manchester United limped in to the Europa League final last night thanks to a Fellaini header which saw them progress 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw on the night.
Right from the off Manchester United looked off the pace. Celta Vigo, so poor in the first leg, were playing like their season depended on it and really, it did. They sit safely in 12th in La Liga but they have long given up on improving their position in that competition and have viewed the Europa League as their sole point of entry to European football for next season.
Iago Aspas in particular was causing plenty of problems for United but despite the early pressure from Celta Vigo it was the home side who broke the deadlock. Rashford, who really seems to enjoy this competition, cut in from the left and delivered an inch perfect diagonal cross to the back post where Fellaini had managed to lose his marker. In electing to head in at the near post he may have wrong footed the keeper but in truth Alvarez should have done better than weakly palming the ball inside the upright.
Not that United or their fans cared, there was a party mood at Old Trafford in the aftermath of the goal with the big Belgian’s name ringing around the ground, the home crowd, justifiably, thinking that a two goal lead should have made the rest of the game a formality.
For much of the remainder of the game, it was. The sides traded chances, Celta perhaps had the better of the opportunities and but for Guidetti’s profligacy might have levelled sooner than they did.
The goal arrived with just five minutes of normal time remaining and signalled a period of utter madness. Bailly did brilliantly to block a shot from Aspas but then got his positioning all wrong at the resulting corner giving Roncaglia the chance to head home and level the score. More than that, it meant that just one more goal would see them through on away goals.
Tensions were understandably high but that doesn’t excuse the handbags that erupted, seconds later, in the middle of the pitch. In the midst of it all Bailly, who will want to forget these 5 minutes as soon as possible, pushed Guidetti in the face, he dropped like a stone causing further remonstrations from everyone and then Roncaglia got involved, retaliating on Bailly, it was silly, it was pointless and it earned them both a red card.
Things became even more unnerving for the home side when the board went up showing that there would be six minutes of added time. From a position of complete control, things had gone utterly pear shaped for United. They hacked and thrashed the ball away, they thought they had won it when Herrera put the ball in the net but it was pulled back for a foul by Pogba in the build up. Seconds later, they were back under pressure.
Celta piled forward, desperately searching for that winner but when Guidetti, a player who could have had a hat-trick on the night, got his feet in a mess and failed to connect with a pull back that had left him with an open goal, it was all over.
Guidetti and his team mates hit the floor, United’s players celebrated wildly. They had won the tie and reached the Europa League final, but the truth is they were second best all night. If they are to have any hope of lifting the trophy they will need raise their game to levels rarely seen this season.
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