Mata fires Man Utd into Europa League quarter-final

Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game as Manchester United defeated FC Rostov 1-0 in their Europa League last 16 second leg clash at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

  • Manchester United 1 FC Rostov 0 (2-1)
  • Mata scores on 70 minutes
  • United progress to the next round

Match summary

Mata broke the deadlock on 70 minutes with a close range finish from a deft Zlatan Ibrahimovic flick after a match where the Premier League side dominated from start to finish.

Full report

United had the first chance of the night within the opening five minutes when Ander Herrera’s corner was met by Marcos Rojo's powerful header – forcing a save from Rostov goalkeeper Nikita Medvedev. Ibrahimovic was unable to steer the ball in from a tight angle at the far post as he rattled the woodwork when it dropped to him.

The visitors found themselves under some continuous early pressure but weathered the storm as Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired wide on 12 minutes, while some good early deliveries from Antonio Valencia from the right flank were hacked clear.

Moments later, Ibrahimovic clipped a shot just over the Rostov goal with the keeper out of his area after being set through by a good ball forward from Mata.

Khoren Bayramyan then got his low cross from the right all wrong after being set down the right flank, with Sardar Azmoun unmarked inside the box.

Medvedev reached a good Daley Blind cross just ahead of Paul Pogba on 21 minutes before the French midfielder fired wildly over the target after some good approach play.

Rostov were struggling to string passes together with the hosts very much in control midway through the first half. Denis Terentjev had to be alert to nick the ball off the toe of Blind at the back post as he looked to connect to a good Ibrahimovic ball from the right.

Appeals for a penalty were waved away as Mkhitaryan went down under a challenge from Medvedev before Azmoun saw a shot from the edge of the United box blocked.

Mkhitaryan then chipped a shot wide of the Rostov goal after a neat ball forward from Mata, as Ibrahimovic was thwarted by a good tackle from Miha Mevlja just as he looked to power home from close range. The Swede then smashed his next effort against the right-hand upright after cutting inside from the left.

Pogba fired a free-kick from the left into the stands as the half wore down while the opening period ended with a rare attack for Rostov as Alexandr Erokhin placed his shot wide of Sergio Ramero in the United goal. Medvedev then threw himself at a powerfully hit, left-footed curling shot from Pogba on the edge of the 18-yard area.

United suffered a blow at the start of the second half as Pogba was withdrawn with an ankle injury and replaced by Marouane Fellaini.

Romero then had to make an excellent diving save to his right to keep out a powerful Azmoun shot on 54 minutes before an easier save from range from a central position. 

Ibrahimovic headed a good Valencia ball over the target after beating Fyodor Kudryashov to the ball, before Rostov introduced their goalscorer from the first leg, Alexander Bukharov, on the hour mark. United made a change themselves after Phil Jones replaced Blind, following an elbow to the head.

Dmitriy Poloz had a shot blocked by Eric Bailly on the edge of the box, after being set up by Bukharov, as Rostov started to become more adventurous going forward.

But United took a lead that their first-half play deserved as Mata slotted home from close range, on 70 minutes, after Ibrahimovic's back-heel flick from a good, low Mkhitaryan cross from the right fell kindly for the Spaniard at the back post.

Romero made a smart stop to deny Bukharov with a stooping header before Marko Devic replaced Andrei Prepelita with just over 10 minutes of the match remaining.

A Christian Noboa free-kick was brilliantly saved from Romero to stop the game going into extra-time.

United secured their progression to the next round with a 2-1 aggregate victory. They will find out their quarter-finals opponents in an open draw in Lyon on Friday.

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