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Manchester United are gearing up against Russia side FC Rostov in the Europa League.
Leading Manchester United to the Europa League would have look too daunting a task to Jose Mourinho when he first took over the leadership of the club but now reviewing his time at United, we can say his presence has altered the club’s declination.
The Europa League would be a better alternative path to Champions League qualification compared to a top-four finish in the Premier League.
United were expected to be defeated as Rostov have displayed excellent form as of late. Some spectators’ goal was to see Henrikh Mkhitaryan score and the Armenian did not leave his supporters disappointment.
Mkhitaryan deserved to have the goal. Marouane Fellaini, right at the edge of the area, passed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic who took the ball to the right by-line then pulled back to Mkhitaryan who powered the ball home. That was his fourth Europa League goal and seventh of the season.
The goal came as a surprise to Mourinho. The match against feared Rostov, who have defeated both Ajax and Bayern Munich this season, was arduous as the Olimp-2 pitch was so hard with a difficult terrain.
Mourinho had a difficult time deciding the team to use to avoid casualty on what promises to be a truly grim surface to play on. His decision was of benefit to Fellaini. The ball heeded more to the direction of the wind blowing in from the plain of southern Russia.
The United was able finish unscathed but Rostov was a different story. Rostov’s centre-half Vladimir Granat came off worse after a challenge with Mkhitaryan and was forced off the pitch 18 minutes into the game.
Minutes later, Mkhitaryan was issued a yellow card for knocking out Fedor Kudryashov while Aleksandr Gatskan was warned for foul on Ibrahimovic.
The woeful condition of the pitch loomed over the game. The ball was always falling out of the players control. Sergio Romero who went to take a goal-kick, saw the ball move of its own volition with considerable force.
At 53 minutes, Rostov equalised. Timofei Kalachev made a long pass slipping past Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, and Aleksandr Bukharov cushioned the ball home going past Romero in the process.
Bukharov’s goal put the Red Devils under pressure but they held out for the draw. Mourinhho was seen hurling words at Kalachev from the side-line. The United excelled on a rough surface and despite the match not being the best Mourinho would be glad he left Russia without casualty.
Rostov (5-3-2): Medvedev; Kudryashov, Granat (Terentyev 18) , Navas, Mevlja, Kalachev; Gatskan, Erokhin, Noboa; Poloz, Bukharov (Azmoun 74).
Manchester United (4-3-2-1): Romero; Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Blind (Valencia 90); Young, Herrera (Carrick 90), Fellaini; Pogba, Mkhitaryan (Martial 68) Ibrahimovic.
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Germany)