Manchester United squeeze through to Europa League quarter-finals with narrow win

Juan Mata fired Manchester United into the Europa League quarter-finals at Old Trafford.

The Spaniard bagged the only goal of the game as United squeezed through 2-1 on aggregate to end FC Rostov’s adventure in the competition.

Mata’s 10th goal of the season gave manager Jose Mourinho something to smile about as the Russian resistance was finally broken in the second half.

READ MORE: Mourinho plays mind games after Rostov win

READ MORE: Champions League chance makes Europa League key for United – Mata

However, the Special One looked concerned on the touchline when record signing Paul Pogba pulled up with a hamstring injury shortly after the interval.

Tall midfielder Marouane Fellaini was immediately readied for action and took to the field with the game still on a knife-edge at the Theatre of Dreams.

Pogba’s departure could have unsettled the hosts as they searched for the breakthrough to avoid relying on the away goals rule.

The Red Devils dominated the first half of proceedings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unfortunate not to open the scoring when his shot struck the post.

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But it was not until Mata’s strike, which came 20 minutes from time, that United supporters began to breathe a little more easily.

Rostov’s task remained the same. They still needed to score to keep their place in the competition and the visitors continued to search for a way through.

READ MORE: Pogba injury blow for Man United

Sergio Romero was forced to make a fine save to keep out Aleksandr Bukharov as the single goal proved enough on the night for Mourinho’s men.

Match-winner Mata told BT Sport: “It was a matter of finishing our chances again. We created some good chances but we could not score. It is important we kept a clean sheet so we are happy today.

“They are a team that push until the end. They play with a difficult system but we adapted well. We are playing at Old Trafford and need to do well.

“Our aim is to win every tournament we play in. It is a good chance to play Champions League next season and we will try until the end. The level in the Europa League is difficult.”

Manchester United will discover their opponents in the next stage when the draw for the quarter-finals takes place on Friday.

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