Rashford strike gives United the advantage

Manchester United have the slimmest of advantages in their Europa League semi-final tie after beating Celta Vigo 1-0 in the first leg at Balaidos on Thursday.

  • Celta Vigo 0 Manchester United 1
  • Alvarez keeps out Rashford curler
  • Lingard also denied by Alvarez
  • Romero tips over Sisto strike
  • Rashford free-kick breaks deadlock 

Match Summary

Jose Mourinho's side posed the greater threat in the port city of Vigo, but Sergio Alvarez kept them at bay in the opening 45 minutes.

The Celta keeper was eventually beaten 23 minutes from time by Marcus Rashford's well-struck free-kick, and United held on to take a slender one-goal cushion into the home leg at Old Trafford next week.

Full Report

The first half was a rather scrappy affair, although both teams had good chances to get on the scoresheet.

Marcus Rashford caused early problems for the hosts with his pace as he got away down the left flank before picking out Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who rushed his shot to fire well wide of the target in the fifth minute.

Celta should have taken the lead with their first real opportunity of the match on 11 minutes, but Daniel Wass steered a free header wide of the far post from Nemanja Radoja's cross on the right.

Wass then tried his luck from distance seven minutes later, although he failed to work Sergio Romero with a wayward strike that sailed well wide of the left post.

Only the heroics of Alvarez prevented the visitors from breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes, as Rashford cut inside from the left and looked for the top-right corner with a curling effort that the keeper expertly tipped around the right post.

Pione Sisto tested Romero on the half-hour mark after finding space for a shot from outside the area on the left that the keeper gathered comfortably, while Jesse Lingard failed to make clean contact with Henrikh Mkhitaryan's cross towards the back post from the left moments later as United countered.

@PaulPogba is looking sharp in the first half against Celta Vigo. ? #MUFC

A post shared by Manchester United (@manchesterunited) on May 4, 2017 at 12:45pm PDT

Alvarez had to be alert to deny Mkhitaryan with his leg on 35 minutes after the Armenian had been played in on the left by Paul Pogba, and the keeper stood firm to prevent Lingard from scoring with a side-footed effort four minutes later following Rashford's weighted pass into the box.

The second half was more entertaining as a spectacle, and Pogba's eyes lit up when Lingard headed the ball down to him in the 50th minute, but the French midfielder lashed over from 25 yards out.

Iago Aspas threatened to open the scoring two minutes later with a glancing header from Wass' cross on the right that drifted inches past the left post, while Romero did well to tip Sisto's deflected strike from the edge of the box over the bar on 59 minutes.

After Rashford skinned his marker to surge into the area and skew an effort well wide of the right post in the 62nd minute, the teenage striker produced a moment of magic to put the Red Devils ahead five minutes later.

The England international whipped a free-kick from the right over the wall and beat Alvarez for pace as the ball flew into the left corner of the net beyond the keeper's despairing dive.

A brilliant free-kick from @MarcusRashford for a key away goal! ?? #MUFC

A post shared by Manchester United (@manchesterunited) on May 4, 2017 at 1:42pm PDT

Gustavo Cabral looked to respond for hosts with a strike from 22 yards out that cleared the bar on 69 minutes, before Aspas volleyed wide of the near post after linking up well with John Guidetti on the left four minutes later.

Lingard wasted a glorious chance to double United's lead on 75 minutes as he flashed a shot wide of the right post from 14 yards out after a cross had been cleared into his path, while Pogba attempted to catch Alvarez out four minutes from time with an ambitious free-kick from a long way out on the left that dropped wide of the keeper's near post.