United 2 - 1 Anderlecht
Valencia Bailly Rojo(Blind) Shaw
Lingard(Fellaini) Mhki Rashford
We never do it the easy way. I watched the game from my hospital room after a 3-hour nasal surgery. I can assure you the the post-op pain was more bearable than watching United miss chance after chance after chance. It was so frustrating. Thankfully we managed to get through after a brilliant goal by young Marcus Rashford.
We started brightly only to find their 'keeper in outstanding form. He saved some fine efforts from Pogba and Lingard but we're now used to seeing an opposition goalie having the game of his life at OT. No surprises there. We did manage to score quite early though and I thought it was going to be an easy ride from then on. Pogba delivered a sublime pass to Rashford who passed to Mkhitaryan with the latter finishing superbly. That was his 10th goal of the season, not a bad return from a player who started the season so poorly.
Easy ride it definitely wasn't. We switched off after the goal and lost Rojo, a player who has managed to transform himself into a very dependable centre-back. We were casual in possession and static at the front. Blind was a nervous wreck at the back and was at fault for the goal we conceded. We were much better during the second half though but kept missing chances. Ibrahimovic missed two golden opportunities and Rashford should have done better when one-on-one with the goalie. We needed a goal and with Roo and Martial on the bench, Mourinho made a rather surprising move of bringing on Fellaini. Fellaini was very effective and was the one who assisted Rashford in extra time to score the winner. What a goal it was by Marcus!
Ibrahimovic got what looked like a nasty injury right at the end of normal time. While I wish him a fast recovery, I must say that one man's tragedy might be United's gain. Ibra was so static during the game and Mourinho sets out a team to play for and accomodate Zlatan at the front. With Rashford playing as a striker, we look so dynamic and threatening. Perhaps the combination of Zlatan's injury, his age and Rashford's performances when played up front could mean that we've seen the last of Ibra at Manchester United. I have no doubts that we'll have another striker at United next season and Ibra might have to accept playing second fiddle to Rashford and his new partner. Oh, and we must not forget Anthony Martial who can only improve after this season. I don't think Ibrahimovic would like to be squad player.
So we're into our first European semi-final in six years. Our first in the Europa League. Just three steps away from winning the cup. We're definitely the best team in the competition but that does not give us a divine right to win it. As we've seen in this game, any team can give you a hard time. Anderlecht were only one goal away from eliminating us. Focus should now be on the semi finals but if we manage to leapfrog either Liverpool or City in the league it would be a bonus. Come on United!