For the first time in six years, Manchester United will appear in a European final. The Red Devils saw off Celta Vigo at Old Trafford to advance to the Europa League final, with a goal from Marouane Fellaini enough to make the difference in a match that was marred by a late sending off for Eric Bailly.
In the early minutes, it was the away side who started the match with greater attacking intent. Iago Aspas drew a sharp save from Sergio Romero with a blistering shot after getting in behind Matteo Darmian.
It took a full ten minutes for United to create their first real attack. A piece of improvised brilliance from Paul Pogba took him away from three Celta Vigo players, and his disguised through ball just evaded Marcus Rashford. That chance marked a change in momentum that paid off seven minutes later.
Some patient interplay in the midfield was finished off superbly as a lovely lofted ball from Rashford was headed in the far post by the onrushing Fellaini. With a two goal aggregate lead, and the early nerves seemingly dissipated, United then exerted control over the match.
Pogba continued his imperious form from the first leg, and Henrik Mkhitaryan finally returned to form - the Armenian frequently tormented defenders with his pace and skill in the first half. Of course, a United match this season wouldn’t be complete with out a period of complacency, and so it proved again today. With United failing to extend their lead, Celta Vigo had a great chance to go ahead before the break, but Daniel Wass headed wide.
The away team started the second half just as they did the first, with Romero called into action seconds after the restart. United responded shortly though, with Mkhitaryan drawing a save after a blistering shot from outside the area. From there, a handful of half-chances followed for each side, with neither side taking full control. The best chance fell to Rashford, who almost created a goal from nothing after beating three defenders only to see his shot saved by Sergio Alvarez.
With the game beginning to peter out, Mourinho signaled his intention to see out the result by sending on Michael Carrick in place of Mkhitaryan. Vigo were in no mood to go quietly however. Some slack defending allowed Facundo Roncaglia to head the visitors level with just four minutes to go. United were stunned, but the drama didn’t stop there.
Just moments after the restart, a fight broke out near the center circle. Bailly, who had been faultless to that point, lashed out at John Guidetti. Several players then became embroiled in a fracas, and at the end of it both teams had a player sent off. Goalscorer Roncaglia and Bailly were both shown red cards.
Guidetti had a chance to win it at the death, but yet again was unable to apply the finish. United managed to hold on to the draw, but will now have to compete for the cup without their best defender.
It was hardly a classic performance, but United did enough to progress to the final.