A second half free kick scored by Manchester United striker Marcos Rashford was enough to give the English side a 1-0 win away to Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday night.
It was a relatively dull game in a full Balaidos Stadium, but the English side probably deserved the win after creating more chances against a rival they were able to stifle for long parts of the game.
The first half saw Manchester United close Celta down in the middle of the park so the Spanish outfit were unable to play their usual open football.
Presented with the physical challenge of a midfield containing Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and Marouane Felaini, Celta were reduced to shots from outside of the United area, with Sergio Romero comfortably saving the only effort on target.
At the other end, Sergio Alvarez was Celta’s hero, with the home keeper at full stretch to keep out a curling effort from Marcos Rashford, before stopping a one-on-one chance from winger Henrikh Mikhitaryan and a close range effort from Jose Lingard as United looked to make Celta suffer on the break.
Celta were more in the game after the break, pushing Manchester United back and Sisto produced a good save from Romero after 64 minutes.
However, just a couple of minutes later Rashford scored with a direct free kick to put the visitors ahead. It’s possible that Alvarez was expecting the left footed Daily Blind to take the free kick and the Celta keeper was slightly out of position as the youngster’s effort went in at the far post.
The only chance Celta had after the goal was an effort from Iago Aspes which went wide of the target as United closed the game down.
Pogba sent a long-range effort wide from a set piece, before Ashley Young suffered a muscle injury in the last minute of the game, but United will be confident of reaching the final after next week’ s return leg.