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Dublin: -2°C Saturday 17 April 2021


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WE’RE DOWN TO the last four in the Europa League and, after Ajax put one foot in the final with a 4-1 win over Lyon last night, it’s the turn of Celta Vigo and Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho’s men are favourites to claim victory in the competition given the array of talent in their squad and the club’s financial muscle.

They face Spanish opponents who are currently 11th in La Liga having lost out 3-0 to Athletic Bilbao last Sunday. That was Celta’s third straight defeat but they did rest several first-team regulars.

Kick-off is 8.05pm and the game is live on eirSport 2 and BT Sport 2.

Here are the teams. The home side recall their big names by making eight changes to the starting line-up with former Liverpool man Iago Aspas and ex-Manchester City striker John Guidetti named up front.

United, meanwhile, have been boosted by the return to fitness of Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly. Jess Lingard is preferred to Anthony Martial, who is on the bench, while Marcus Rashford continues to lead the line with Zlatan Ibrahimovic out for the remainder of the season.

Celta Vigo: Alvarez, Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Jonny, Pablo Hernandez, Radoja, Wass, Sisto, Aspas, Guidetti.


Manchester United: Romero, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian, Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Rashford.

Having joined Liverpool from Celta for around £9 million back in 2013, Iago Aspas was deemed a flop at Anfield — managing just one goal in 15 appearances for the Reds.

He was soon offloaded on loan to Sevilla, before rejoining his beloved Celta in 2015.

Spain: Celta Vigo v KRC Genk - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: First Leg Aspas. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

However, this term the 29-year-old has been flying with 17 goals in 29 La Liga games and 5 in 10 in the Europa League.

A goal against United in either leg would certainly endear him to those Liverpool fans who criticised him during his spell in the Premier League.

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about tonight’s Russian referee Sergei Karasev:

Man United would probably be happy with a score draw and an away goal to take back to Old Trafford, but how do you see this first leg going?

Poll Results:

Man United win (294)
Draw (176)
Celta Vigo win (121)

Flag 1Mins

Kick-off – And we’re away as Rashford plays the ball back into his own half. Celta are in their home colours of baby blue and white, United wearing the traditional red with black short and black socks.


Five minutes in and there’s been very little to report. Fellaini finds himself up in opposing corner and drives the ball across but Sergio Alvarez catches easily.


Chance for Celta! A ball into the box from Radoja reaches Wass at the back post, but he heads wide of the target. That was really poor defensively from United.


Mkhitaryan gets a talking to by the referee after a late challenge on Aspas.


Aspas slips the ball through Darmien’s legs and gets a huge cheer from the crowd for the nutmeg.


Bailly is dispossessed by Guidetti and the Swedish striker finds Aspas 20 yards out from goal. Celta retain the ball but United regroup and get players behind the ball.

They eventually lose it to Pogba, who goes on a driving run before he’s obstructed Roncaglia just outside the Celta box. No free-kick given though.


Fine save! Rashford cuts in from the left and shifts the ball to make room for himself. When the striker gets a sight of goal, he lets fly but Sergio Alvarez excellently tips around the post. United’s best chance so far by a long way.


Half-chances for both sides – Sisto curls an effort towards Romero, who makes a routine save. Then, down the other end, Mkhitaryan tries to find the run of Lingard but the Celta backline do just about enough.


United break in numbers through the middle with Mkhitaryan. His attempted through-ball is a bad one, however, and it’s snuffed out.


Yellow card – Fellaini is the first player into the book tonight. The midfielder brushes off Celta captain Mallo, who goes down very easily holding his head. Soft booking.


Important stop – Super from Pogba in the midfield to get away from his man and thread through Mkhitaryan. The Armenian international shoots with his left foot but it’s tame enough and is saved by the Celta keeper.


United are knocking on the door here – Fellaini knocks on with his head, Lingard and Rashford play a one-two and the former blasts at the body of Sergio Alvarez.


Half-time: Celta Vigo 0-0 Manchester United 

Celta Vigo v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League - Semi Final - First Leg - Estadio Municipal de Balaidos Rashford's shot is blocked. Source: EMPICS Sport

Flag 46Mins

Second half – We’ve restarted. Seconds in, Darmien catches Aspas and gives away a free-kick. Herrera then clears his lines when the set-piece comes in.


Aspas has seen his header sail just wide, while Rashford’s corner fails to beat the first man. There has been a distinct lack of quality in this game at times.


Romero tips over! Sisto’s attempt on goal takes a deflection and looks to be looping in but Man United’s stand-in goalkeeper gets a fingertip to it. Great save.


Booking – Mallo brings down Rashord and the striker wants a pop at the free-kick himself…

Flag 67Mins

GOAL! Celta Vigo 0-1 Manchester United (Marcus Rashford)

United have an away goal, and what a hit it is. Blind dummies to take the free-kick before Rashford curls over the wall and past Sergio Alvarez. Stunning strike but could the Celta keeper have done better positionally?


Chance for Celta – The home side look to hit back but Aspas volleys wide.


Substitution – Mkhitaryan is off with Ashley Young coming on in his place.


Another change – Now it’s Rashford hobbling off for Anthony Martial. The Celta players aren’t happy with the pace that he’s leaving the pitch, but the goalscorer signals for them to keep quiet.


Fellaini, on a yellow card, commits a foul in the centre circle but there’s no red just yet.

Pogba then picks up a booking for time-wasting, before the Frenchman tries to catch the Celta keeper out with a cheeky free-kick from distance. It’s a few yards wide of the post.


Young is only on the field but he looks to have done his hamstring. Chris Smalling is readying himself. More injury woes for United.


Celta substitution – Captain Mallo goes off for Claudio Beauvue. We’re in injury-time now.

Flag 90Mins

Full-time: Celta Vigo 0-1 Manchester United 

Job done for United. A win and that precious away goal in the bag.

About the author:

Ben Blake