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Monday 24 July 2017

Rashford rescues united after night of misfires

Manchester Utd 2 Anderlecht (aet) 1 United win 3-2 on agg

Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia of beats Anderlecht’s Frank Acheampong to the ball during their Europa League quarter-final, second leg match at Old Trafford last night. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia of beats Anderlecht’s Frank Acheampong to the ball during their Europa League quarter-final, second leg match at Old Trafford last night. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes his way off the pitch after suffering a nasty knee injury. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

How many Manchester United strikers does it take to score a goal? Too many for Jose Mourinho.

In a season of profligate performances in front of goal, United topped the lot against Anderlecht and woe of woes, lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a very nasty looking knee ligament injury.

They scraped through in the end thanks to Marcus Rashford after extra-time but they had enough chances for a cricket score.

There have been hints of late that Mourinho, very much the 'Ordinary One' since he took up where Louis van Gaal left off, is feeling his specialness again.

A huge win over Chelsea on Sunday was Mourinho at his scheming, brilliant best and teed his team up perfectly for this game.

Results

He would probably admit that performances haven't always matched the recent run of good results but they keep coming and the theme continued last night

His players really did it the hard way this time. Set up to attack, United were wide open to Anderlecht's counter-attack in the early moments and it looked like the Belgians would continue their record of scoring in every away game in the competition until Paul Pogba made an intervention.

He had already lost possession twice with loose passes when he found himself with the ball, well inside United's half and picked out a 50-yard pass for Marcus Rashford which was a thing of beauty.

Rashford hit a defender with a cross meant for Zlatan Ibrahimovic but won the rebound and found Henrikh Mykhitaryan. Short backswing and the ball hit the net.

The goal came after ten minutes and for the next ten, United were almost unstoppable, that task falling to Anderlecht goalkeeper Ruben who saved brilliantly from Pogba and Jesse Lingard.

Half-chances followed but as has so often been the case, United didn't convert and Mourinho's frustration hit boiling point when Anderlecht did what they had threatened virtually from the first kick and scored.

Youri Tielemans, a tricky and talented teenager, hit the bar and Sofiane Hanni took the rebound and buried it in the 32nd minute.

United took that goal on the chin and set off after another goal, inspired by the man who has had to endure relentless verbal prodding from Mourinho, Luke Shaw.

Raiding down the left, he set up a string of chances, the best of them for Rashford and Lingard, before and after the break.

Mourinho brought Marouane Fellaini on and went long with immediate results and two great chances for Rashford, both fluffed.

Pogba missed a sitter with 12 minutes on the clock but for all United's swashbuckling attacking, they just couldn't find a way to score.

With the last kick, Zlatan crumpled in a heap, replays showing an awful hyperextension of his knee.

Extra-time and Pogba almost scored with an overhead kick before the Frenchman had one disallowed for a foul by Fellaini.

Then with the clock reading 106 minutes, a long punt from Daley Blind was bundled into Rashford's path by Fellaini and with a wonderful flick and swivel, he created space to finally score.

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