Marcus Rashford’s extra-time goal sent Manchester United into the Europa League semi-final.

The Europa League plays a big role for Manchester United and manager Jose Mourinho because winning the Europa League will give automatic access to the Champions League, which will take away immense pressure to win in the top-four places in the Premier League.

United took the lead on the night and in the tie when Henrikh Mkhitaryan drilled in a low finish in the 10th minute but Anderlecht came in with a Sofiane Hanni equalizer after 32 minutes.

United then displayed a lackluster performance as they missed chance after chance, and was also marred with injuries to defender Marcos Rojo in the first half and a serious-looking knee injury to top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the end of normal time.

It seemed that a shootout would take place, but Rashford, a scorer against Chelsea at the weekend, made the winning contribution after 107 minutes with a brilliant turn and finish from Marouane Fellaini’s knockdown.

United can celebrate another step towards winning the Europa League and the Champions League place that comes with it, but it goes without saying that Mourinho’s side may face a couple of challenging obstacles along the way.

The biggest concern will surround Ibrahimovic, whose knee had broken down during normal time. He managed to get up, limping away. But concerns regarding their star striker is worrisome, the loss of Ibrahimovic could still be a setback of major significance after his 28 goals this season.

And there will be almost equal concern about the injury to Rojo that saw the central defender taken off on a stretcher in the first half. United are already without injured central defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, they cannot afford to lose any more.

This was a vital victory for Manchester United – but it may come at a heavy price.

Scoreline

Manchester United

Mkhitaryan (10′ minutes)
Rashford (107′ minutes)

RSC Anderlecht
Hanni (32′ minutes)

Advertisements