Manchester United 2, Anderlecht 1 (Agg: 3-2): Zlatan Ibrahimovic injury taints United's Europa League progression

Ross McLean
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Ibrahimovic has scored 28 goals for United this season (Source: Getty)

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho painted a bleak picture after injuries to striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and defender Marcos Rojo tainted his side’s victory over Anderlecht and progression to the Europa League semi-finals.

Teenage striker Marcus Rashford was the United match-winner in extra-time after the hosts had missed a slew of chances during a clash which saw Anderlecht skipper Sofiane Hanni cancel out Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s early opener.

Ibrahimovic, who has scored 28 goals this season, looked in immense pain after landing awkwardly in the dying embers of normal time, while Rojo also sustained a knee problem in the first half.

When asked of the initial prognosis, Mourinho said: “Fairly negative. I don’t think they are easy injuries but I prefer to wait until all the tests are done tomorrow than speak what I feel. I cannot do that because I am the manager and not the doctor.”

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Mourinho, meanwhile, has told under-performing members of his squad to use Rashford as inspiration. The 19-year-old has now scored three goals in his last four United appearances, a far cry from an 17-game barren spell earlier in the season.

“His qualities are fantastic but he was not scoring a goal since September and because of his mentality, even when he doesn’t score goals, I kept confidence in him,” added Mourinho.

“Some other players don’t realise what makes me trust a player. Marcus I trust. Score, doesn’t score, he is fantastic in his effort and attitude.”

United had won all five of their previous Europa League home matches this season and took a 10th-minute lead when Mkhitaryan drilled low beyond Anderlecht goalkeeper Ruben Ivan Martinez after being located by Rashford.

The counter-attacking move was started by Paul Pogba, whose towering header was moments later repelled by Ruben before the on-loan Deportivo La Coruna stopper thwarted Jesse Lingard’s curling effort.

Anderlecht levelled shortly after the half hour mark as Hanni lashed home following a deflected left-footed strike from Youri Tielemans, which rattled the crossbar.

Ibrahimovic wasted a gilt-edged opportunity inside the final 20 minutes, firing straight at Ruben from point-blank range following a knockdown from substitute Marouane Fellaini.

Pogba followed suit as he somehow scooped over from six yards, while Ibrahimovic was forced to leave the field prior to the end of 90 minutes after his knee appeared to buckle under him.

United sealed a place in today’s draw for the last four two minutes into the second period of extra time when a composed turn by Rashford paved the way for him rifling a low left-footed shot beyond Ruben.

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