Man Utd 2-1 Anderlecht AET (3-2 agg): Rashford Strikes in Extra Time...

Man Utd 2-1 Anderlecht AET (3-2 agg): Rashford Strikes in Extra Time to Send Red Devils Through

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​Manchester United needed an excellent individual goal from Marcus Rashford in extra time to see off Anderlecht and progress into the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave the home side an early lead, before Sofiane Hanni levelled the game and the tie with just over 30 minutes played.

It would stay like that until the 107th minute, when Rashford finally broke through after an evening that consisted largely of missed chances and frustration from a home perspective.

After a tentative opening, United, with their first effort of the game nine minutes in, went in front through Mkhitaryan. Marcus Rashford picked out the midfielder in space on the edge of the box, and his effort was hit low and hard past the helpless Ruben Martinez.

The goal seemed to spark something in the hosts as both Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were acrobatically denied by the impressive Martinez soon after. But there was an air of composed confidence about Jose Mourinho’s side, and indeed Old Trafford, progression expected against a side they had already proved largely superior to in the first leg.

The tie was not won, however, far from it. Anderlecht’s Frank Acheampong raced clear on goal but could only find the side netting, a stark warning for United against complacency. Then Dendoncker came close again, and then the visitors equalised. 

The warning signs had clearly not been heeded, teenager Youri Tielemans’ deflected effort striking the bar, before Hanni slotted in the rebound just after the half hour mark. A promising start had quickly deteriorated into a somewhat lacklustre United performance, while Anderlecht went into half-time deservedly level.

Manchester United v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Second Leg

Both sides had chances immediately after the break; first Anderlecht’s top scorer Łukasz Teodorczyk had a shot from close range blocked by Antonio Valencia, before Luke Shaw burst forward at the other end but saw his ball across the six yard box somehow evade everyone. 

There was an openness that suggested extra-time would not be needed; Anderlecht were certainly not sitting back, but United, in contrast to their dismantling of Chelsea four days prior, were struggling to convert their chances.

Manchester United v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Second Leg

When they did create an opening with almost 70 minutes played, Rashford, having capitalised on a defensive error and rounded the keeper, was unable to convert. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, quiet on his return to the starting XI, then surpassed an excellent chance, blocked by the onrushing Martinez.

Chances were coming more frequently, but time was running out, the aforementioned extra-time growing increasingly likely. Ibrahimovic and Rashford came close again, but the away side held out to take the game to an extra 30 minutes.

United’s enigmatic Swedish striker withdrew after the 90 minutes, a nasty looking injury forcing him off, and he took no part in the extra time period. The hosts’ profligacy remained, frustration mounting when Pogba saw a goal disallowed late in the first 15 minutes, although the pressure on the visitors’ goal had become almost constant.

Finally, in the second half of extra time, Rashford produced a moment of brilliance, turning onto his left foot and firing in at the bottom corner to score the elusive second goal. It was a moment that meant a penalty shootout was avoided, and United, dealing with Anderlecht’s response, edged into the semi-finals of the Europa League.

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Source: 90min

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