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Full-time: Celta Vigo 0-1 Manchester United

  • Manchester United take firm control of Europa League semi-final tie after deserved first-leg victory at the Estadio de Balaidos
  • Marcus Rashford curls home brilliant 25-yard free-kick in the 67th minute after being fouled by Hugo Mallo
  • Visitors initially plagued by yet more profligacy as Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard all waste excellent chances during goalless first half lit up by the impressive performance of Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez
  • Initially boosted by the respective returns of Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling, United are once again bitten by the injury bug as Rashford and substitute Ashley Young limp off late on
  • Return fixture takes place at Old Trafford next Thursday night, with the final booked for 24 May in Stockholm
  • Wednesday: Ajax 4-1 Lyon
Marcus Rashford

That is all for this particular live blog, thanks for following along. Post-match reaction from Mourinho to come at some stage later tonight. Keep your eyes peeled.

I will also be back tomorrow evening to bring you live coverage of a Friday night Premier League derby between West Ham and Tottenham. Hope you can join me for that one.


A thoroughly deserved victory for United, who return to Old Trafford with an away goal and a clean sheet. They will now be considered overwhelming favourites to reach their first Europa League final.

Mourinho may well be disappointed that his side were unable to secure a more emphatic lead. Fans will also nervously await news of those injuries suffered by Rashford and Young.


Celta Vigo 0-1 Manchester United

Aspas wins a last-gasp free-kick just inside the United half. Jozabed's delivery is weak and headed clear by Fellaini.

Bailly makes an important intervention in the United box and Darmian hastily hacks clear.

The visitors are caught sitting too deep before a long ball in towards Guidetti is caught by Romero.

Five minutes of stoppage time have been signalled by the fourth official.

Berizzo, who replaced Wass with Fulham midfielder Jozabed a few minutes ago, withdraws Mallo in favour of Beauvue.

Young, who only replaced Mkhitaryan 10 minutes ago, sinks to the turf with an apparent hamstring problem and Mourinho has no hesitation in sending on Smalling.

Just as it appeared that United's injury problems were beginning to ease...

Ashley Young

More terrific United defending during the closing stages. This time substitute Young slides in on Mallo and manages to win a goal kick.

Pogba is booked for time-wasting.

Very brave defending from Bailly to dive in low with his head and snuff out the danger posed by Guidetti.

That could have been very painful.

Fellaini's latest transgression leaves Berizzo and the home fans pleading for a second yellow card. The referee does not oblige.

Martial is now ready to enter the fray and goalscorer Rashford is the man who will head to the bench.

The 19-year-old looks to have picked up a knock here as he limps off gingerly, much to the annoyance of everyone in sky blue.

Celta's players tell him in no uncertain terms to get a move on.


Mourinho's first change sees Mkhitaryan make way for Young. Martial is also stripped and ready to come on, but will have to wait a little longer.


A vicious half-volley from Lingard whistles narrowly past the post. The England midfielder will be disappointed not to have got his name on the scoresheet tonight.

Looking to engineer a response, Aspas combines well with both Guidetti and Jonny. However, his subsequent volley misses the target.


With Fellaini disrupting the wall, Rashford steps up to curl an unstoppable right-footed free-kick into the back of the net. Superb technique from the teenage striker, who has now scored 11 goals across all competitions so far this season.

Sergio initially seemed to step to his left, which gave him no time to switch his weight back in the other direction.

United have their away goal. They are now firmly in the ascendancy.

Marcus Rashford

Goal: Celta Vigo 0-1 Manchester United (Marcus Rashford)

Mallo flattens Rashford and promptly joins Fellaini in the referee's notebook. United have a free-kick in a very dangerous position...

The persistent Guidetti pressures Bailly into conceding a cheap corner following a booming kick from Sergio. Romero plucks the ball out the air and immediately tries to pick out the run of Lingard.

Space opens up for Rashford down the left-hand side. Needing no second invitation, he strides forward with purpose before curling a shot wide with three red shirts waiting in the middle.


Spoke too soon. Romero tips the ball over after Sisto's latest effort loops up menacingly off Herrera.

Encouraging for the hosts.

The game just entering a real lull now as we approach the 60-minute mark. Celta Vigo's lack of a quality final ball means they are finding it hard to trouble that United backline.

Aspas, not exactly an aerial powerhouse, glances a header wide of Romero's right-hand post.

Lingard takes a decent first touch and tees up Pogba for a side-footed effort that sails over the crossbar. That was never likely to trouble Sergio.

Back underway in north-west Spain. Can United find that elusive away goal?

Mourinho returns early for the second half as the theme song from the A-Team rings around the Estadio de Balaidos...

All square at the break. Not for the first time this season, United's profligacy threatens to be their undoing.

Jose Mourinho

Lingard, Mkhitaryan and Rashford all could and probably should have scored in that opening 45 minutes. Goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez the shining light for Celta, who came close to taking the lead themselves through Wass.


Celta Vigo 0-0 Manchester United

No additional time signalled at the end of the first half.

Herrera's attempts to set Valencia free down that United right result in the ball sailing out of play.

Sisto then does well to hold up the marauding Ecuadorian before Sergio fearlessly gathers a Fellaini cross intended for Rashford.

Aspas rises above Blind at the far post but his header lacks both power and direction and is easily scooped up by Romero.

Nice skill from Guidetti to outwit Bailly and produce an inviting cross.

United are really beginning to turn the screw here, but still Celta stand firm. Sergio makes another strong save to thwart Lingard after an unconventional one-two with Rashford.

At the other end, Guidetti's effort cannons back off Blind.

Pogba is really beginning to shine now as he tees up Mkhitaryan with a lovely pass.

With that record in his sights, the Armenian is denied by the onrushing Sergio. He should have done much better with that.

Fellaini clashes with Guidetti and is somewhat unlucky to pick up the first yellow card of the evening.

Pogba carves Celta open and Lingard is a whisker away from turning home Mkhitaryan's low cross from close range.

Still goalless after 30 minutes of this semi-final first leg.

Jesse Lingard

United struggle to adequately clear a long throw from the right flank. With plenty of teammates in support, Sisto, clearly not lacking confidence in his own abilities, makes a horizontal run across the edge of the area before shooting straight at De Gea.


Sisto, who scored against United for FC Midtjylland last term, drags a low shot wide when trying to pick out the bottom corner.

Sergio is at full stretch to deny a brilliant curling effort from Rashford. The subsequent corner is emphatically headed clear.

Wass looks to test De Gea, but pulls an ambitious long-range drive well wide of the post.

Celta struggle to get a shot away and a powerful counter-attacking run from Pogba is cynically halted by Facundo Roncaglia.

Somehow, the referee fails to award a free-kick on the edge of the box.

The skilful Aspas wins a free-kick after being bundled over following a cute little nutmeg. Mourinho does not look best pleased.

Celta spurn a glorious chance to take an early lead as Spanish winger Daniel Wass steals into the six-yard box unmarked and heads an excellent Radoja cross agonisingly wide of the far post.

That was a real let-off for United.

Rashford gets in behind the Celta defence, only for his attempted centre to be deflected behind for a goal kick.


Celta piece together their first promising attacking move of the evening, but it breaks down due to some miscommunication between former Manchester City, Burnley, Stoke and Celtic striker Guidetti and key man Aspas.

Something of a cagey opening as United seek to control the tempo and quickly quieten a passionate home crowd.

Paul Pogba

Rashford and Mkhitaryan both see speculative efforts blocked before Sergio Alvarez comfortably claims a hopeful cross.

Russian referee Sergey Karasev gets proceedings underway.

Celta have already beaten Barcelona and Real Madrid this season, can they claim another major scalp and head to Old Trafford for the return fixture with something to defend?


That 17-goal haul is good enough for fourth place in the La Liga scoring charts, behind only Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo. Atletico Madrid linchpin Antoine Griezmann has managed 16.


The 29-year-old made just 15 appearances for Liverpool following a £7m switch from Celta in the summer of 2013, scoring only once in a cup tie against Oldham Athletic before joining Sevilla and eventually returning to Vigo.

We have already witnessed one semi-final first-leg of course, with Ajax, seeking to reach their first European final for 21 years, thumping Lyon 4-1 in Amsterdam thanks to a brace from Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traore and further efforts from Kasper Dolberg and Amin Younes. Mathieu Valbuena notched an away goal after the break.

That game was played yesterday because 4 May in the Netherlands is an annual holiday known as Remembrance of the Dead. It commemorates those who have died in wars since 1939.

Celta won two and drew three matches en route to finishing as runners-up behind fellow semi-finalists Ajax in Group G.

They needed extra-time to defeat Shakhtar Donetsk in the first knockout phase but had little trouble in eliminating FC Krasnodar. The Galicians then did just enough to progress past Genk in a high-scoring quarter-final duel.

So how did both teams reach the semi-final stage?

United were pipped to top spot in Group A by Fenerbahce and thumped Saint-Etienne before squeezing past resilient Russians FC Rostov in uninspiring fashion.

They needed a dramatic extra-time winner from Marcus Rashford to see off the spirited challenge of Anderlecht in the last eight.

Berizzo, a disciple of fellow Argentine boss Marco Bielsa, insists Celta will not change their style tonight against the heavy tournament favourites.

We want to be true to ourselves. We have found a way to play. How do we win? Being faithful to who we are. We have found an identity, and we believe in this identity: a lot of pressing, a lot of possession, and a belief in a sustained attack. The only way to beat a team like United is to be faithful to our identity.


So why exactly should United fear a side that are hardly pulling up any trees in La Liga this term?

IBTimes UK's European football correspondent Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal has outlined five reasons why they are likely to pose a serious threat.

Iago Aspas

Celta, meanwhile, have lost their last three matches against English opposition.


Celta boss Berizzo also makes sweeping alterations following last weekend's 3-0 home defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

Hugo Mallo, Gustavo Cabral, Jonny, Nemanja Radoja, Pablo Hernandez, Aspas, Pione Sisto and John Guidetti replace Alvaro Lemos, Sergi Gomez, Andreu Fontas, Marcelo Diaz, Andrew Hjulsager, Fulham loanee Jozabed, Theo Bongonda and Claudio Beauvue.

Injury-plagued striker Giuseppe Rossi, on loan from Fiorentina, missed out on a reunion with his former club due to yet another serious knee issue. Left-back Carles Planas also remains sidelined.

Mourinho makes six changes to the side that drew with relegation battlers Swansea on Sunday. David De Gea makes way for Sergio Romero as expected, while Darmian replaces the injured Shaw and Antonio Valencia comes in for Ashley Young.

Bailly starts alongside Daley Blind at centre-back with Smalling only deemed fit enough for the bench and Jones absent entirely. Pogba, the previously suspended Marouane Fellaini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan also return at the expense of Michael Carrick, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney.

Mata is once again named as a substitute.


Official lineups on the way. Stay tuned...

Here's more from Mourinho on the current injury situation and a truly hectic fixture schedule...

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are back, and Paul Pogba. In relation to the Europa League, it's very important. We have two matches in one week against Celta, it's important to have everybody back. In relation to the Premier League, I think it's too late because, in the month of April, we played nine matches, seven of them in the Premier League.

We had too many problems, to many players absent - because of that, we had players that had to play 750 or 800 minutes of football and we paid the price. We played against fresh teams and were in accumulation. At this moment, the perspective is different, because the Europa League becomes even more important for us. It's good to have three players back that give us more options.

Juan Mata was injured for a while, but he's ready to play. He's experienced, he's one of the few players that played European semi-finals and finals, so it's nothing new for him. The only risk is that he probably can't play 90 minutes, the risk is that if he starts he doesn't finish the game. From the bench, no problem for him to play, so he's selected and he can perfectly play tomorrow.

Bailly is ready to play. He's this kind of personality that fights against every problem, unless it's impossible. Luke Shaw is injured and it's an important injury, obviously. But we are still waiting for one more medical opinion for the medical department to decide what to do. It doesn't matter what [the outcome is], he's out for the season, that's confirmed.


While Luke Shaw has now joined the likes of Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and James Wilson in being lost for the remainder of the campaign, United are set to be boosted tonight by the respective returns of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Paul Pogba.

Juan Mata is said to be ready to play after returning to the bench against Swansea in the aftermath of a quick recovery from hernia surgery. Eric Bailly has also shaken off a knock.

Eric Bailly

The availability of three senior centre-backs will be music to the ears of Mourinho, who was facing the prospect of fielding one of full-back Matteo Darmian, veteran midfielder Michael Carrick or inexperienced 19-year-old academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe in the heart of defence.

"It would be great to close the circle and say, 'We are a club that won every single competition in the football world'."

Jose Mourinho has left increasingly little doubt as to which competition he views as the main priority between now and the end of the season as Manchester United, still only a point adrift of the Premier League top four ahead of a weekend trip to Arsenal, attempt to reach this month's Europa League final in Stockholm.

In addition to helping secure qualification for the Champions League, a maiden triumph in the continent's secondary club competition would see them complete a bustling trophy cabinet. The weary Red Devils, set to play their 58th match of the season tonight in sunny northern Spain, are currently in the midst of an 11-match unbeaten run across all competitions and have finally received some respite in relation to their dreadful recent injury crisis (more on that in just a moment).

Celta Vigo vs Manchester United

Standing in United's way in Galicia this evening and at Old Trafford next week is a Celta Vigo side spearheaded by rejuvenated Liverpool flop Iago Aspas that have also reached the last four for the first time.

Drifting in mid-table obscurity domestically, the hosts, typically a force to be reckoned with on their own patch in Europe, have lost all three of their La Liga matches since edging past Genk in the quarter-finals with Eduardo Berizzo able to rest certain players in preparation for a tie that really appears to have caught the imagination of the picturesque city's inhabitants.