Johannesburg [South Africa]: Midfielder Juan Mata scored a timely goal as Manchester United entered the last eight of the Europa League with an underwhelming 1-0 victory against Russian minnows FC Rostov in a nervy encounter at Old Trafford.
Mata’s strike in the 70th minute of the game helped United complete a 2-1 aggregate win thus entering the last eight of Europe’s second-tier club competition for the first time since 1985.
The midfielder got the decisive goal for his side when he stabbed in from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s flick, but Rostov threatened to take the game to extra time and Sergio Romero made two good saves late on.
However, what was disappointing for the Jose Mourinho’s side was that the victory came at the cost of an injury to Paul Pogba, who left the fray with an apparent hamstring injury early in the second half.
Mourinho indirectly blamed his side’s jam-packed fixture schedule and said Pogba’s injury was due to “fatigue”.
“Normally the enemies should be Rostov, but we have a lot of enemies,” Sport24 quoted Mourinho as saying.
“It’s difficult to play Monday with 10 men (against Chelsea). It’s difficult to play now. It’s difficult to play 12 o’clock on Sunday (against Middlesbrough). We have a lot of enemies,” he added.
United, who have never previously won the Europa League, will find out who they will play in the quarter-finals, in Friday’s draw in Nyon. (ANI)