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Rediff.com  » Sports » Manchester United cling on against Celta in tense match to make Europa League final

Manchester United cling on against Celta in tense match to make Europa League final

Last updated on: May 12, 2017 10:39 IST

Ajax to face United in final despite defeat at Lyon

Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring the first goal with teammates during their UEFA Europa League, semi-final second leg match against Celta Vigo at Old Trafford in Manchester, on Thursday 

IMAGE: Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring the first goal with teammates during their UEFA Europa League, semi-final second leg match against Celta Vigo at Old Trafford in Manchester, on Thursday. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Manchester United survived a fraught finale, featuring an ugly brawl and a red card for each side, to draw 1-1 at home to Celta Vigo and reach the Europa League final on Thursday.

United, who won 2-1 on aggregate, will face Ajax Amsterdam in Stockholm on May 24 after the Dutch side overcame Olympique Lyonnais 5-4 on aggregate after a 3-1 defeat in Lyon.

United will play in their first Europa League final and their first European showpiece match since losing in the 2011 Champions League. They also never reached the UEFA Cup final.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg of the semi-final in Spain, United thought they had killed off the tie when Marouane Fellaini headed them in front after 17 minutes.

United sat back and allowed Celta to dominate possession but looked comfortable until Facundo Roncaglia headed the visitors level in the 85th minute, meaning another goal for the Spaniards could have put them through on away goals.

 

Players from both sides clash before Manchester United's Eric Bailly and Celta Vigo's Facundo Roncaglia are given marching orders by the referee

IMAGE: Players from both sides clash before Manchester United's Eric Bailly and Celta Vigo's Facundo Roncaglia are given marching orders by the referee. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Tempers flared shortly afterwards when United's Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly lashed out at John Guidetti, who fell to the ground, before Argentina international Roncaglia got involved. Roncaglia and Bailly were sent off.

Guidetti had a chance to win the tie for Celta with the last kick of the game but failed to control the ball six metres from goal.

"We were the best team in the first leg but we never kill, we never score goals related to the chances we have. It was an open game at home, all the pressure on our side," said United coach Jose Mourinho.

"We suffered until the end... After 14 matches we are in the final. If we win the Europa League I am more than happy. It would be amazing."

Mourinho, who has targeted a Europa League triumph as a way for United to qualify for next season's Champions League, described Ivorian defender Bailly's performance as phenomenal.

Celta Vigo's Facundo Roncaglia challenges Manchester United's Marcus Rashford as they vie for possession

IMAGE: Celta Vigo's Facundo Roncaglia challenges Manchester United's Marcus Rashford as they vie for possession. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

"The game was emotional for everyone. Some kept control better than others," he said.

"Facundo Roncaglia is not new in these situations, Bailly was probably naive. We now lose a very important player for the final, and we don't have many."

Celta, whose fans made most of the noise, were lively from the start but United went ahead when Fellaini got in front of his marker to head in at the far post after Marcus Rashford drifted out to the left and delivered a perfect cross.

The hosts were then happy to sit back and contain Celta, making the game strangely subdued. The visitors moved the ball around nicely but failed to make the most of their chances.

The game changed dramatically when Roncaglia headed home Theo Bongonda's cross.

United kept the visitors at bay during six minutes of stoppage time and the Celta players sank to their knees in despair as the whistle blew seconds after Guidetti's miss.

Players of Ajax Amsterdam celebrate on reaching the final of the Europa League on Thursday

IMAGE: Players of Ajax Amsterdam celebrate after the semi-final second leg match against Olympique Lyon at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Decines-Charpieu, in Paris on Thursday. Photograph: Robert Pratta Livepic/Reuters

In the other semi-final, Ajax Amsterdam weathered an Olympique Lyonnais storm to reach the Europa League final 5-4 on aggregate after suffering a 3-1 away defeat in a thrilling clash on Thursday.

They will face Manchester United in the showpiece match in Stockholm on May 24 after the Premier League side beat Celta Vigo 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

Kasper Dolberg opened the scoring for Ajax in the semi-final second leg but Alexandre Lacazette's double just before halftime put Lyon ahead on the night and substitute Rachid Ghezzal added another goal for the hosts late on.

But Ajax, who finished with 10 men after Nick Viergever was sent off in the finale, held firm to reach their first European final since 1996 when they lost in the Champions League.

"It hurts, because we played an almost perfect game but that first goal cost us dearly," said Lyon defender Maxwell Cornet.

The Lyon defence was often outpaced in a lively start to the game and midway through the first half, Ajax were rewarded.

Dolberg put the visitors ahead after 27 minutes, chipping the ball past Anthony Lopes after being set up by Younes, who benefited from some poor defending by Rafael and Nicolas Nkoulou.

Lacazette was brought down in the area just before the break and he converted the resulting penalty to give Lyon a lifeline in the 45th minute.

One minute later, Lacazette gave the home side the advantage on the night when he latched onto a pass across goal from Nabel Fekir.

Ajax were on the back foot early in the second half, but Lyon lacked accuracy, until Ghezzal's 81st-minute deflected header gave the Parc OL hope.

There was more hope when Viergever was handed a second yellow card in the 84th minute.

Cornet's strike in the 87th then whizzed past the post as Lyon increased the pressure, but the visitors held out until the final whistle.

Source:
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