Wednesday 16 August 2017

Man United survive nervy finish to advance to Europa League final

Man United 1 (2) Celta Vigo 1 (1)

Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the UEFA Europa League semi-final, second-leg football match between Manchester United and Celta Vigo at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on May 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel RIOPA
Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the UEFA Europa League semi-final, second-leg football match between Manchester United and Celta Vigo at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on May 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel RIOPA

Simon Peach

Manchester United will have the chance to add the Europa League to their bulging trophy cabinet after edging through a frantic, tempestuous semi-final against Celta Vigo.

After 14 matches that have taken Jose Mourinho's men to Holland, Turkey, Ukraine, France, Russia, Belgium and Spain, the long, arduous continental campaign has brought a shot at glory.

Reaching the May 24 finale was far from straightforward, though, as Marouane Fellaini's first-half header was cancelled out by Facundo Roncaglia five minutes from the end of the semi-final second leg.

The drama did not end there as Celta's goalscorer and Eric Bailly were sent off as tempers frayed, with United holding out for a 1-1 draw that saw them reach the Stockholm finale 2-1 on aggregate.

The relief was as clear as the joy at the final whistle as United moved within a victory of the only major trophy to have eluded them in their success-laden history.

Europa League glory also offers Champions League qualification - United's best chance of returning to Europe's top table given their Premier League struggles - but Ajax are likely to prove as stern a test as Celta.

Few could have foreseen such a nervy ending when Fellaini headed home Marcus Rashford's fine cross, but Celta's efforts were rewarded by a late goal from Roncaglia - a player sent off along with Bailly moments later.

Former Manchester City striker John Guidetti wasted a gilt-edged chance to turn the tie around entirely with the last kick of the game, but United now have the chance to add the Europa League to this season's Community Shield and EFL Cup triumphs.

Press Association

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