Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho insisted his side had achieved as much as they possibly could in the circumstances after drawing with mid-table Russian outfit FC Rostov in their Europa League last-16 clash.
United will head into next week’s second leg with a crucial away goal after Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s close-range first-half finish, although they were pegged back in the second period by a strike from Rostov centre-forward Aleksandr Bukharov.
The surface at the Olimp-2 Stadium proved as challenging as it looked and Mourinho was content to return home with no fresh injury worries ahead of Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final showdown at his old club Chelsea.
“It was a very good performance in relation to the conditions,” said Mourinho.
“It was impossible to play better, impossible to have the ball, impossible to play a passing game, so we played what the game demanded and coped with their intensity and directness.
“We played well. We made one defensive mistake. I did not see us conceding but we did. We have an open result for the second leg with a little advantage for us. It’s done, no injuries and it’s one more experience for every one of us.
“To see my players fight and coping with this and having the humility to fight for every ball, to fight for a good result, is a good feeling for me.”
United opened the scoring on 35 minutes as Mkhitaryan – making his first appearance since the last round against Saint-Etienne due to a hamstring injury – lashed home a clever cut-back from striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Rostov, who have now lost just one of their last eight European home matches, beat German champions Bayern Munich during this season’s Champions League group stage in November and levelled eight minutes into the second period.
Hitman Bukharov latched onto and controlled a clipped ball forward from defender Timofei Kalachev’s before firing past stand-in stopper Sergio Romero.