Mata scores, Pogba hurt as Manchester United reaches Europa League quarters

Thursday March 16th, 2017

Manchester United nursed its slight edge over FC Rostov in their Europa League round of 16 series, and the Red Devils finished off their Russian counterpart at Old Trafford on Thursday, going down to the wire to do so.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's away goal was vital for Manchester United in the first leg 1-1 draw, and Juan Mata scored the only goal in the 1-0 triumph in the second leg. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, still suspended in domestic play for his elbow on Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings, is available in European competition and delivered a strong performance on a night when Paul Pogba exited with an apparent hamstring injury. He hit the post twice in the first half and delivered a classic assist for Mata's goal.

Ibrahimovic hit the post for a second time in the 35th minute with an absolute blast from inside the box, letting Rostov off for the time being.

Things didn't get any easier for Manchester United just after halftime, as Pogba limped off with an apparent hamstring injury. He had been denied just before the break with a great save by goalkeeper Nikita Medvedev.

Rostov was silent for the bulk of the opening 50 minutes, until Sardar Azmoun uncorked a curling blast that required a diving save from Sergio Romero.

Manchester United found the breakthrough from Mata, scorer of a number of key goals for the club this season. Ibrahimovic delivered a gorgeous back-heel flick off Mkhitaryan's cross from the right to play Mata through, and he finished from the doorstep to give United the 2-1 aggregate advantage.

Manchester United joins Schalke, Lyon, Ajax, Anderlecht, Celta Vigo, Besiktas and Genk in the last eight of the competition.

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