The Nigerian Online Newspaper

Europa League: Red Devil cage Anderlecht, land in semi-finals

Manchester United booked their spot in the semi-finals of the Europa League after recording a 2-1 victory over Anderlecht in the second leg of their quarter-final at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Extra-time was needed to separate the two teams after Sofiane Hanni had cancelled out a Henrikh Mkhitaryan effort to leave the pair level at the end of 180 minutes of the last-eight tie.
Man United were the stronger team in the additional 30 minutes, however, and Marcus Rashford scored the vital goal in the second half of extra-time as the 20-time English champions booked their spot in the final four of the competition.
Man United made the breakthrough in the 10th minute of action, however, when Mkhitaryan smashed the ball past Ruben Martinez after Rashford, who had been released by a sensational Paul Pogba pass, set up the Armenian with a smart cross.
Anderlecht should have levelled the scores in the 21st minute when Frank Acheampong broke through on the Man United goal after beating Marcos Rojo, who went off injured moments later, to a loose ball, but the attacker’s low effort just missed Romero’s near post.
Anderlecht were purring, however, and the visitors deservedly levelled the scores in the 32nd minute when Hanni smashed home from close range after Man United had failed to clear their lines, with Youri Tielemans’s deflected effort hitting the crossbar and dropping into the home side’s box.
Rashford threatened to score a second for the Red Devils five minutes before the break when he skipped past Dennis Appiah before attempting to beat Ruben, but the away side’s goalkeeper made a smart save, before the Spaniard kept out a low effort from Shaw as the tie remained level at the interval.
Anderlecht had a super chance to take the lead early in the second period when a wonderful crossfield pass from Tielemans released Teodorczyk, but the Pole’s strike was deflected just wide of Romero’s post.
The visitors were always dangerous on the counter-attack, with Teodorczyk’s header testing Romero in the 54th minute, but Man United were also causing problems down the other end when Rashford had space to exploit in wide positions.
Rashford again came close for Mourinho’s side after being released by Ibrahimovic in the 89th minute, but the forward hit the side-netting as the quarter-final headed for extra-time following a 1-1 draw in the second leg.
Ibrahimovic landed awkwardly in the final act of the 90 minutes, and the Swede had to be replaced by Anthony Martial after suffering an injury that could well end the experienced forward’s season.
Man United continued to look the more likely to register in the first half of extra-time, but some sensational defending from Anderlecht’s two centre-backs, and a Pogba goal disallowed for offside, kept the score level at the break.
The pressure was absolutely relentless, however, and Man United took the lead in the 107th minute when Rashford created some space inside the Anderlecht box with a wonderful turn before rolling the ball into the corner of the net.