The Manchester United teenager has the club on course for the Europa League final after his strike in the semifinal first leg in Spain.

By SI.com Staff
May 04, 2017

Manchester United took one step toward the Europa League final, emerging from the away leg of the semifinals with a 1-0 win at La Liga's Celta Vigo on Thursday, thanks to Marcus Rashford's sensational second-half free kick.

Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez had been stellar, denying three gilt-edged chances in the first half, but he was caught leaning the wrong way on a United set piece in the 67th minute, and Rashford capitalized with a perfectly hit rocket.

Celta Vigo had the game's first chance, with Daniel Wass heading wide in the 11th minute after a cross from Nemanja Radoja.

Manchester United's first look on frame came via Rashford, with the teenager whipping a right-footed blast from 20 yards toward the far post, only to be denied by a flying Alvarez in the 20th minute.

Alvarez came up huge again in the 35th minute with a kick save to deny Henrikh Mkhitaryan from close range after Pogba set him up with an inch-perfect throughball following some quality work in the midfield to beat a defender and create space.

Alvarez made his third big save four minutes later, stonewalling Jesse Lingard from close range to keep the sides scoreless.

Aspas nearly nudged Celta in front in the 52nd minute, as the former Liverpool man glanced a header by goalkeeper Sergio Romero but beyond the far post as well.

Pione Sisto then tested Romero with a dipping blast from 18 yards in the 59th minute, forcing a leaping, fingertip save from the Argentine to keep the home side from going out in front. 

Rashford finally found the breakthrough with a vital away goal in the 67th minute, scoring on his fantastic free kick. With Daley Blind running over the ball, the kick fell to Rashford, who hit a dipping, powerful, right-footed blast from over 20 yards that beat Alvarez and gave United a 1-0 lead.

Lingard had a golden chance to make it 2-0 soon after, but he fired his powerful hit on a bounding ball just wide of the right post.

United will host the second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday, looking to punch a ticket to the May 24 final in Stockholm. Ajax is looking good for the other place in the final after a 4-1 win over Lyon in their first leg in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The winner not only gets the trophy but also earns a place in next season's Champions League.

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