Manchester United have booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, courtesy of a 2-1 aggregate victory over Rostov at Old Trafford on Thursday.
A 1-1 draw in Russia a week ago had given United the slight advantage heading into Thursday night’s match, and Juan Mata’s second-half strike sealed their place in the last eight despite a largely frustrating evening for Jose Mourinho’s side.
It was one-way traffic throughout the opening 45 minutes as United dominated possession, but they struggled to find the breakthrough and Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed another opportunity to open the scoring when he was denied by a sprawling Medvedev after beating the keeper to the ball on the edge of the box.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s away goal in the first leg had given United the lead in the tie, but the Armenian failed to hammer home that advantage when he was released through on goal only to clip his finish wide when looking to lift the ball over the keeper.
Paul Pogba then fired a free kick over the top before Rostov finally recorded their first shot of the match in first-half stoppage time, although it was never troubling Sergio Romero in the United goal as Alexandr Erokhin sliced a 25-yard effort well off target.
United with a half-chance of their own as Ibrahimovic flicked a header over the bar, but their grip on the game began to loosen as the second half progressed, with Rostov beginning to see more of the ball in better positions.
However, it was during this period that the breakthrough finally arrived for the hosts as a rare defensive error from Rostov was ruthlessly punished. Mata pounced on a loose ball in midfield to launch an attack, and ended up applying the finishing touch from close range after Mkhitaryan’s cross had been flicked on by Ibrahimovic.
Rostov’s task of finding a goal had not changed despite falling behind on the night, though, and Romero needed to be alert to prevent extra time with just over 10 minutes remaining when he scooped Alexander Bukharov’s header around the post.
In the end, it proved to be Romero who kept United in Europe despite their dominance for the vast majority of the match, with the back-up keeper making one final save to deny a stunning 30-yard free kick from Noboa that looked to be heading for the top corner.