Manchester United defeated Russian club Rostov 1-0 on Thursday thanks to a second-half goal from Juan Mata that propelled the Red Devils into the Europa League quarterfinals with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Juan Mata Lifts Manchester United to Win vs Rostov

Mata scored from close range in the 70th minute on his first shot of the game by firing the ball in from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s back-heel flick pass. Rostov nearly tied the game to send it into extra time, but United goalie Sergio Romero made two great late saves.

Romero first blocked Sardar Azmoun’s flicked header before knocking away Christian Noboa’s free-kick.

United struggled to get the win. They dominated for large stretches but didn’t deliver many scoring chances, and lost midfielder Paul Pogba to a hamstring injury early in the second half. Defender Daley Blind also went off midway through the second half with suspected concussion.


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Their best opportunities before the goal came in the first half, when Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot wide when one-on-one with Rostov’s goalie, and then when Ibrahimovic hit the post twice.

United next visit Middlesbrough for a Premier League game on Sunday, and then host West Brom in another Premier League matchup on April 1. Pogba will miss Sunday’s game.

The Red Devils will next face Belgian leaders Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals. United have not lost any of their six previous games against Anderlecht. The Europa League is the only major trophy Jose Mourinho’s team has not won thus far.

United is currently sixth in the Premier League standings.

For the other three Europa League quarter-final draws, French side Lyon play Turkish club Besiktas, Dutch giants Ajax meet German team Schalke, while Spain’s Celta Vigo face Belgium’s Genk.

United are considered the favorites by many bookmakers, as the only British team left in the tournament. They hope to reach the Europa League final on May 24 at Stockholm’s Friends Arena— where Swedish forward Ibrahimovic is having a statue built in his honor.

Earlier this week, Rostov were banned from hosting games due to their field’s poor conditions, which Mourinho among others complained about.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 16: Juan Mata of Manchester United is challenged by Khoren Bayramyan of FC Rostov during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, second leg match between Manchester United and FK Rostov at Old Trafford on March 16, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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