Month: March 2017

Manchester United 3 Middlesbrough 1

19/03/2017 14:04, Report by Jamie Allen

Premier League | 19 March 2017 | Riverside Stadium | Attendance: 32,689 | Scorers: Fellaini 30, Lingard 62, Valencia 90+3; Gestede 77

Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a hard-fought 3-1 triumph over relegation-threatened Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, becoming the first club to record 600 Premier League victories in the process.

Marouane Fellaini’s first-half header was doubled by Jesse Lingard in spectacular fashion just past the hour mark. Substitute Rudy Gestede gave Boro a fighting chance, but Antonio Valencia put the game to bed late on after capitalising on a mistake from Victor Valdes, meaning Jose Mourinho’s men move ahead of Arsenal into fifth in the Premier League.

United came into this one having not played a league fixture for two weeks, though it was the Reds’ 12th match in seven weeks, which led to Mourinho making seven changes in all from Thursday’s win over FC Rostov. David De Gea, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Michael Carrick, Fellaini, Lingard and Marcus Rashford all came in to the starting XI.

Just 62 hours from leaving the field in that Europa League game, United were nearly off to the perfect start after just six minutes as Rashford evaded the Boro defence, but former Red Valdes saved down low when one-on-one.

At the other end, Gaston Ramirez tested De Gea, cutting in from the left and firing a fierce shot at goal, but the Spaniard tipped the ball wide of his far post.

The Reds, playing in blue, went very close to taking the lead on 24 minutes as fantastic team play lead to Juan Mata crossing for Rashford, who was denied by Valdes, before the Boro stopper blocked the re-bound from Valencia.

Mourinho’s men got the deserved opener on the half-hour mark as Young expertly crossed to Fellaini at the back post and he headed past Valdes from a yard out.

Alvaro Negredo had a chance to level moments later but he headed wide, before Marten de Roon pulled the ball back for the former Sevilla man, but the ball failed to reach the Spaniard.

The Boro defence could not handle Rashford’s pace but the youngster couldn’t quite produce the end-product, meaning United went in to the break just one goal up when it could perhaps have been more comfortable.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: Middlesbrough 61% United 39%
Shots at goal: Middlesbrough 5 United 10
Shots on target: Middlesbrough 1 United 4
Corners: Middlesbrough 4 United 3

The Reds started the second half on the front foot with Rashford and Valencia both getting in behind the Boro defence on a couple of occasions, but the final ball lacked quality.

That quality arrived in emphatic style just past the hour mark, however. After Boro had a sustained period of possession, United grabbed that elusive second goal on the counter-attack.

Lingard picked the ball up in his own half and drove at the opposition defence before firing a wicked strike into the top corner from 25 yards for his first Premier League goal of the season, one which resembled his Wembley strike in the FA Cup final last season.

Negredo had two headed opportunities moments later; the first was straight at De Gea, while the second was a glancing header with which he really should have hit the target.

Steve Agnew, who was placed in interim charge following the sacking of Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid, Aitor Karanka, introduced Gestede and it was he who took advantage of a mis-kick from Chris Smalling and fired past De Gea from five yards. It was Boro’s first goal since January.

The home side pushed for a late leveller but Valencia, on his 200th Premier League appearance for United, put the game out of sight, capitalising on a slip from Valdes to rob him of he ball and tap into the empty net. It was his first goal for three years and meant United stretched the unbeaten Premier League run to 18 matches and head into the international break on the back of a vital win.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: Middlesbrough 64% United 36%
Shots at goal: Middlesbrough 10 United 14
Shots on target: Middlesbrough 3 United 6
Corners: Middlesbrough 8 United 3

THE TEAMS

United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Bailly, Young, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata (Rojo 69), Lingard (Martial 80), Rashford, (Darmian 94).

Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw, Mkhitaryan.

Booked: Jones

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Espinosa, Gibson, Fabio, De Roon, Clayton, Leadbitter (Gestede 67), Ramirez (Traore 67), Downing, Negredo.

Subs not used: Guzan, Stuani, Fry, Guedioura, Forshaw.

Booked: Clayton

Manchester United 1 FC Rostov 0

16/03/2017 22:00, Report by Adam Higgins

Europa League Round of 16 second leg | Old Trafford | Attendance: TBC | Scorer: Mata 70

Juan Mata scored the winner as Manchester United secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League at the expense of FC Rostov with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.

The Spaniard clipped home from close range as Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s low cross was flicked into his path by Zlatan Ibrahimovic with 20 minutes remaining as the dominant Reds ensured progression to the last eight of the competition with a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.

In doing so, Jose Mourinho’s men maintained this season’s unbeaten home record in Europe and await Friday’s draw in Switzerland with interest.

After navigating difficult terrain in Rostov-on-Don last week to claim a creditable 1-1 draw in the first leg, it was back to the more familiar surroundings under the floodlights at the Theatre of Dreams for the Reds.

Mourinho insisted the players would be ready for a third game in eight days despite the quick turnaround and fielded a strong line-up, boasting four changes from Monday’s Emirates FA Cup defeat at Chelsea.

It was evident from the outset that United, like in the first leg, began with a three-man defence to match Rostov’s formation, with Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind operating as wing-backs in a fluid system.

It was from a Blind corner the Reds almost took the lead inside four minutes as Marcos Rojo met the Dutchman’s delivery with a firm header, which Rostov stopper Nikita Medvedev parried straight to Ibrahimovic but the striker, lurking with intent at the back post, could only hit the post from a tight angle via a touch from the keeper.

United’s positive attacking intent continued as Ibrahimovic had a free-kick well blocked by Andrei Prepelita before seeing a shot touched over by Medvedev after rounding the keeper when released by a delightful forward pass from Mata.

The Reds strongly appealed for a penalty on 26 minutes when Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who scored the crucial away goal in the first leg, appeared to be shoved in the back by the Rostov keeper when competing for a high ball but Lithuanian referee Gediminas Mazeika ignored the claims.

With the Reds bossing both possession and territory, it seemed only a matter of time before the breakthrough would come.

It almost arrived on two occasions when, firstly, Mata’s intelligent first-time pass released Mkhitaryan in behind the visitors’ defence but his lobbed effort dropped agonisingly wide of the post. Then, at the end of another free-flowing move, Ibrahimovic checked inside in the box and unleashed an unstoppable shot which rebounded off the right-hand post.

There was still time for Paul Pogba, an ever-present for United in this season’s Europa League, to draw a fine save from Medvedev from a 20-yard curler as a frustrating first half came to an end, albeit the Reds were safe in the knowledge that a goalless scoreline on the night would be enough to go through on the away goals rule.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession:
United 78% Rostov 22%
Shots: United 12 Rostov 0
Shots on target: United 2 Rostov 0
Corners: United 6 Rostov 0

United were forced into an early change just three minutes after the restart as Pogba came off with an injury and was replaced by Marouane Fellaini.

The same pattern resumed with the Reds in complete control of proceedings but Rostov almost took a surprise lead when dangerman Sardar Azmoun struck a fierce effort from the edge of the box which Sergio Romero repelled before the keeper fielded another shot from Miha Mevlja.

At the other end, Antonio Valencia’s cross picked out Ibrahimovic, who got in front of Cesar Navas to guide a header over the crossbar.

The Reds had to make another enforced alteration as Blind came off shortly after receiving treatment, with Phil Jones entering the fray and Marcos Rojo switching to left wing-back.

The resurgent visitors, currently seventh in the Russian Premier League, began to offer more of a threat which opened the game up in United’s favour and the Reds’ patience was rewarded in the 70th minute.

A quick break saw Mkhitaryan released down the right and the Armenian’s pinpoint low cross, which was flicked on by Ibrahimovic, was converted at the back post by Mata, who consequently took his goal tally into double figures for the season in all competitions.

United continued on the front foot in search of more goals but Rostov almost snatched a leveller which could have changed the complexion when substitute Aleksandr Bukharov, who scored the equaliser last week, flicked on Fedor Kudryashov’s cross but Romero made a stunning reaction save to parry the ball behind.

It was a nervy ending for the hosts, who were indebted to Romero for making a flying save from Rostov captain Christian Noboa’s free-kick from 25 yards with the last kick of the game but United held on to advance to the next round and take a step closer to another cup final.

The Reds will conclude a busy seven days with a trip to the Riverside Stadium on Sunday to face managerless Middlesbrough in the Premier League (kick-off 12:00 GMT).

FULL-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession:
United 69% Rostov 31%
Shots: United 18 Rostov 5
Shots on target: United 4 Rostov 3
Corners: United 6 Rostov 2

THE TEAMS:

United: Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling (c), Rojo, Blind (Jones 64); Herrera, Pogba (Fellaini 47); Mkhitaryan, Mata; Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: De Gea (GK), Young, Carrick, Lingard, Rashford.

Rostov: Medvedev; Bayramyan (Kireev 81), Mevlja, Navas, Kudryashov, Terentyev; Noboa (c), Prepelita (Devic 79), Erokhin; Azmoun (Bukharov 61), Poloz.

Subs not used: Goshev (GK).

Booked: Bukharov

Manchester United 0 Chelsea 1

13/03/2017 21:30, Report by Ryan Grant at Stamford Bridge

Emirates FA Cup quarter-final | Stamford Bridge | Attendance: 40,801 | Scorers: Kante 51’

Manchester United’s defence of the Emirates FA Cup came to an end on Monday evening, as the Reds were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho’s men more than matched the Premier League leaders for much of the first half, but it was Ander Herrera’s dismissal on 35 minutes that proved the game’s pivotal moment.

It took six minutes of the second period for the home side to make their numerical advantage count, as N’Golo Kante fired home from the edge of the box, a goal which ultimately separated the sides.

In the absence of attacking trio Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney, it was left to Marcus Rashford to lead the line in West London. The youngster was named in the starting line-up alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a scorer in United’s previous outing, last week’s 1-1 draw against FC Rostov in the Europa League. Also back in the fold was Matteo Darmian, who was named in a five-man defence, while Ashley Young retained his spot in midfield.

Eager to avoid a repeat of October’s 4-0 league defeat in West London, and roared on by 5,644 travelling fans, the Reds made an encouraging start, winning a corner inside the opening two minutes.

United soon fashioned a goalscoring chance, too, as Rashford was challenged on the edge of the area, allowing Mkhitaryan the chance to take over and shoot narrowly wide. In what was a lively start, the hosts then went close on 15 minutes, as Eden Hazard span away from Chris Smalling in midfield before sprinting towards goal and seeing a low effort diverted behind for a corner by David De Gea’s fingertips.

From the resulting set-piece, the ball fell at the feet of the Blues’ stand-in captain, Gary Cahill, who would have opened the scoring but for a stunning save from the returning De Gea. So often has United’s no.1 produced world-class moments, and this was yet another, as the Spaniard dived low to his right to palm the ball away.

Tensions were as high off the pitch as they were on it, with both Antonio Conte and Mourinho – back at the club with whom he won the FA Cup at United’s expense in 2007 – kicking every ball from the touchline. Things then threatened to boil over 10 minutes before the break when, having already been booked for blocking Hazard, Herrera was sent off for a second foul on the Belgian.

It was a decision that left the travelling fans in disbelief, and the Reds with a mountain to climb going into the second half.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS

Possession: Chelsea 65% United 35%
Shots: Chelsea 8 United 2
On target: Chelsea 2 United 0
Corners: Chelsea 3 United 1

As expected, Chelsea looked to start the second half on the front foot, keen to make the most of their one-man advantage. Cesar Azpilicueta’s low cross was cleared from in front of Diego Costa, before Victor Moses had an effort well blocked on the edge of the box.

The hosts continued to apply pressure and, at the next attempt, it paid off to United’s cost. This time, with the Reds defending deep, and after moving the ball from left to right, Kante was afforded a yard of space and drove a shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 20 yards.

It was a setback which left United in need of some inspiration and it so nearly arrived just before the hour mark. After David Luiz had misjudged a long ball, Rashford ran onto it before twisting and turning his way past Cahill, but he was denied by a crucial sprawling save from Thibaut Courtois.

Just seconds later, at the other end, Chelsea nearly capitalised on their goalkeeper’s work by breaking away in numbers. With blue shirts queuing up at the far post for a tap-in, Willian opted to side-foot the ball back into the area, when perhaps he could have scored himself.

Looking to make amends, the winger stung the palms of De Gea with 18 minutes remaining, after finding room to shoot in the area. United introduced Jesse Lingard shortly after and the Reds immediately went close, as Paul Pogba’s effort flashed wide of both Courtois and the post.

It proved to be the final sight of goal for the visitors, as the Reds bowed out of the FA Cup. Attention will now turn to Thursday’s Europa League Round-of-16 second leg against FC Rostov, as the big games continue to come thick and fast.

FULL-TIME MATCH STATS

Possession: Chelsea 75% United 25%
Shots: Chelsea 19 United 4
On target: Chelsea 4 United 1
Corners: Chelsea 10 United 2

THE TEAMS

United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Darmian, Herrera, Pogba, Young (Lingard 81’), Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 37’), Rashford.

Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Carrick, Mata.

Booked: Herrera, Young.

Sent off: Herrera.

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill, Alonso, Moses (Zouma 88’), Kanté, Matić, Willian (Fabregas 80’), Hazard, Costa (Batshuayi 90+3).

Subs not used: Begovic, Terry, Chalobah, Pedro.

Booked: Costa.

Manchester United 1 FC Rostov 1

09/03/2017 19:54, Report by James Tuck in Rostov-on-Don

Europa League Round of 16 first leg | Olimp-2 | Attendance: 14,223 | Scorers: Bukharov 53; Mkhitaryan 35

Manchester United were denied victory in the Europa League Round of 16 first leg against FC Rostov but will lay claim to gaining a slender advantage after Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored an important away goal.

The fit-again Armenian scored for the third successive Europa League away game this season, converting from close range 10 minutes before half-time to put the Reds in the ascendency.

Aleksandr Bukharov equalised early in the second period as the hosts grew into the game but, in tricky conditions at the Olimp-2 stadium in southern Russia, Jose Mourinho’s side delivered a professional performance and, against a side with an erratic away record, will be confident of finishing the job in next week’s second leg at Old Trafford.

Following the concerns he expressed about the condition of the pitch, Mourinho made seven changes to his side, with Ashley Young and Daley Blind deployed as wing-backs to counter Rostov’s similar formation.

The uneven playing surface and swirling wind contributed to a scrappy game, punctuated by a real moment of quality for the opening goal, which came out of the blue after an almost chanceless opening half-hour.

Marouane Fellaini controlled a long cross-field pass from Phil Jones on his chest and found Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who cut the ball back from the touchline for Mkhitaryan to stroke home. It was no doubt appreciated by the sizeable Armenian contingent in the crowd, not to mention the 238 hardy United fans tucked into one corner of the ground.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: Rostov 41% United 59%
Shots at goal: Rostov 4 United 4
Shots on target: Rostov 3 United 1
Corners: Rostov 1 United 2

Ibrahimovic flashed over from the edge of the ‘D’ early in the second period and Young hit a first-time shot just wide as United threatened to take control.

But Rostov finally came alive as they, like United, scored from their first real opportunity, with Bukharov latching onto a nicely-weighted ball over the top from Timofei Kalachev to control and blast past Sergio Romero.

Aleksandr Erokhin had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Felix Zwayer, who booked six players on the night, and the same player poked wide of Romero’s goal soon after, before goalscorer Mkhitaryan was replaced by Anthony Martial.

As the referee continued to penalise infringements on a regular basis, neither side was able to find much fluency in the closing stages, though the home side arguably shaded the second half, with Erokhin poking a decent opportunity off target and Aleksandr Gatskan testing Romero from distance, so United may therefore be satisfied to go back to Manchester on level terms.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: Rostov 49% United 51%
Shots at goal: Rostov 9 United 9
Shots on target: Rostov 5 United 2
Corners: Rostov 2 United 4

The Teams

United: Romero, Young, Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Blind (Valencia 90), Pogba, Fellaini, Herrera (Carrick 90), Mkhitaryan (Martial 67), Ibrahimovic. Subs not used: De Gea, Lingard, Mata, Rashford.

Booked: Mkhitaryan, Herrera

Rostov: Medvedev, Kalachev, Mevlja, Navas, Granat (Terentyev 18), Kudryashov, Noboa, Erokhin, Gatskan, Bukharov (Azmoun 74), Poloz. Subs not used: Goshev, Kireev, Bayramyan, Prepelita.

Booked: Gatskan, Bukharov, Noboa, Kalachev

Manchester United 1 Bournemouth 1

04/03/2017 14:26, Report by Jamie Allen

Premier League | 4 March 2017 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,245 | Scorers: Rojo 23; King 40 (pen)

Manchester United were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by 10-man Bournemouth at Old Trafford as Artur Boruc saved a second-half Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty to deny the Reds the chance to move into the top four.

Marcos Rojo had put United into a first-half lead, before former Red Joshua King levelled from the spot. Andrew Surman was shown a second yellow card moments before the break for pushing Ibrahimovic following an aerial challenge between United’s no.9 and Tyrone Mings.

Boss Jose Mourinho rotated his side, making four changes to the EFL Cup-winning team. The most notable was the return of Luke Shaw, who started a league game for the first time since the goalless draw with Burnley back on 29 October. Phil Jones partnered Rojo in central defence with Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney also included in the starting XI.

United, who came into this one having not played a league fixture for three weeks, could perhaps have been forgiven for having an EFL Cup hangover after bolstering the club’s trophy cabinet with a 41st major honour, but that was completely not the case as the Reds came flying out of the blocks.

Antonio Valencia won the ball high up the field and, after Ibrahimovic’s flick was cleared, the Ecuadorian crossed for Rooney at the back post, but he headed onto the roof of the net. Shaw was obviously out to impress and, after winning the ball in his own box, he sent Paul Pogba away with a glorious ball over the top, but the Frenchman’s effort was tipped wide by Boruc.

United should really have taken the lead moments later as a poor Mings back-pass found Rooney, but his square ball evaded Ibrahimovic, who would have had a tap in. The Reds were then nearly punished as a hopeful long ball found Benik Afobe who held off Rojo, but slipped at the vital moment allowing David De Gea to save.

At the other end, Anthony Martial cut in from the left and fired a low shot at goal which was again saved by Boruc as United began to turn the screw. This had all happened within the first 15 minutes so it was clear the Cherries were in for a long afternoon.

Martial could have had a hat-trick as this time Carrick did well to win the ball in midfield and play the winger in, but Boruc came to Bournemouth’s rescue again with a treble of his own. But the deserved breakthrough finally arrived on 23 minutes as Valencia’s miss-hit shot found Rojo, who had lurked inside the penalty area following a corner, and he poked the ball past the helpless Boruc.

United seemed to drop the tempo of their play following the goal which allowed Bournemouth to sustain a period of possession and they were back level from the spot five minutes before the break.

Marc Pugh was sent free down the left and he cut inside Jones, who left a trailing leg and took the winger down. King stepped up to fire the visitors level from the spot – only the second goal Mourinho’s men have conceded at Old Trafford in 2017.

Rooney had a chance to send United back in front moments before the break, before a big talking point in the game.

The United captain was first taken down by Mings before the defender looked like he kicked the head of Ibrahimovic whilst clambering over him. Surman, who had been booked earlier in the game for a late tackle on Carrick, was then shown a delayed second yellow card for pushing Ibrahimovic in retaliation to an aerial challenge between the Swede and Mings. Everyone around Old Trafford was left a little bemused by the situation, but what we do know is the sides went in level at the break, with United having the man advantage.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 60% Bournemouth 40%
Shots at goal: United 10 Bournemouth 2
Shots on target: United 5 Bournemouth 1
Corners: United 7 Bournemouth 1

United again came out for the second half in positive fashion, looking to make the extra man count. A Mata cross was narrowly headed over his own crossbar by Steve Cook before Rooney had a shot on the turn tipped over.

Pogba then tried his luck from 30 yards, but again Boruc saved to his left. Mourinho opted to make a triple change in the search for the vital winner as Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all came on.

Seconds later, United were rewarded a penalty of their own as a Pogba flick at the back post struck the hand of Adam Smith. Ibrahimovic’s spot kick, though, was brilliantly saved down low by Boruc who was frustrating Mourinho’s men at every opportunity.

Bournemouth were camped inside their own half for the remaining 20 minutes as they defended for their lives, but United could not break them down. Despite countless stoppages in play to allow the visiting players to receive treatment, only five minutes of stoppage time was played.

Pogba had chances late on to snatch a winner, but he missed his kick and failed to get any power in another effort that Boruc fielded, meaning United were held at home and were left to rue a missed opportunity to gain points on their top four rivals.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 68% Bournemouth 32%
Shots at goal: United 20 Bournemouth 3
Shots on target: United 7 Bournemouth 1
Corners: United 15 Bournemouth 2

The Teams

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw (Lingard 70); Carrick (Fellaini 70), Pogba; Mata, Rooney (Rashford 70), Martial; Ibrahimovic. Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Smalling, Herrera.

Booked: Ibrahimovic, Carrick, Rashford.

Bournemouth: Boruc; Smith, Cook, Mings (Cargill 78), Daniels; Surman, Arter, Fraser, Pugh (Gosling 45); King (Gradel 87), Afobe. Subs not used: Allsop, B Smith, Ibe, Wilshere.

Booked: Arter, Gosling.

Red Card: Surman.