Estadio de Balaídos : Celta Vigo 0-1 Manchester United.
Manchester United Manager Jose Mourhino has been clear on what his priority is this season and his message is Europa is the way to Champions League football next season and his troops seem to head to the call as they responded with a convincing performance in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final match against Spanish side Celta Vigo.
Teenage striker Marcus Rashford was the man who provided the key moment as his superb free-kick put the English side in firm control of the tie.
In the absence of injured veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich, the 19-year old was handed the responsibility to spear head United’ attack and has so far delivered. After scoring in the quarter-final against Anderlecht his curling rocket free-kick effort following a Daley Blind’s decoy run did not only give United the lead but also a precious away goal to provide the cushion ahead of return leg next Thursday.
United had wasted a string of good chances through in the first half and three clear ones Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard and Rashform himself that were saved by excellent on form goal keeper Sergio Alvarez before the opportunity came at a time Celta were in ascendancy.
With this lead going into the return game at Oldtraford, Jose Mourinho’s side will be strong favourites to progress to face Ajax or Lyon in Stockholm on 24 May in the final of a competition they have never won.
Ajax also had their own chances through Daniel Wass and former Liverpool player Iago Aspas who headed wide while Pione Sisto’s deflected shot forced Sergio Romero to save in the second half.
AJAX TAKES HUGE STEP TO FINALS
Meanwhile in the other semi-final dutch side Ajax moved closer to the brink of a first European final in 21 years by overwhelming Lyon in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Wednesday with on-loan Chelsea striker Bertrand Traore opening the scoring.
Kasper Dolberg drove in a second after defensive confusion and Amin Younes added a third via a deflection after the break. Traore added his second after Mathieu Valbuena had given the French side a glimmer of hope and now take a 4-1 advantage.