Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho rued his side’s inability to put Celta Vigo to the sword and book their place in the Europa League final after a commanding performance in Thursday's semi-final first leg.
Teenage striker Marcus Rashford sealed victory with an expertly-taken second-half free-kick – his 19th senior goal for the Red Devils but his first from outside of the penalty area.
The win boosted United’s hopes of reaching the final and, ultimately, securing a place in next season’s Champions League, although missed chances, a feature of the Old Trafford club’s campaign, irked former Chelsea manager Mourinho.
“I am very pleased with the performance but not the result,” said Mourinho, who reiterated his intention to rest key players for Sunday’s Premier League showdown with Arsenal.
“At half-time we should already be three or at least two [goals up] but the result is open. I think we did enough to have the result closed so next week is a big match at Old Trafford.
“We tried always from the first minute to win the match and score goals but we missed chances. We also had to play against a very negative record of Manchester United in Spain so it’s good.
“Let’s hope next week that Old Trafford wants us to win because when Old Trafford wants, we win.”
United’s abject record in Spain read just two wins in 22 matches prior to this clash, and Celta squandered a glorious 11th-minute opportunity to set visiting nerves jangling when midfielder Daniel Wass headed Nemanja Radoja’s enticing cross wide from six yards.
Rashford, 19, was a persistent thorn in Celta’s side and showed patience on the edge of the penalty area shortly afterwards, waiting for an opening before unleashing a 20-yard curling effort which was tipped behind by Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez.
United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a reliable Europa League goalscorer this term, was denied by Alvarez when clean through, while Jesse Lingard was the next to be thwarted by the 30-year-old stopper.
Liverpool flop Iago Aspas glanced a Wass centre past the post, while Celta issued a further warning as United goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who has now conceded just five goals in 15 appearances this term, tipped over a Pione Sisto effort.
United made the breakthrough on 67 minutes as Rashford curled a free-kick, which looked more suited to the left foot of Daley Blind, over the wall and across the otherwise impressive Alvarez.
A fizzing Lingard volley flashed narrowly wide of the post, while Celta, who sit 11th in La Liga and have now lost four matches in succession, failed to show the necessary urgency to trouble United in the latter stages.