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UEFA Europa League 2016/17: Manchester United 1-0 FC Rostov (Agg. 2-1), 5 talking points

Manchester United are through to the quarters of the Europa League after a narrow victory.

Manchester United Rostov Juan Mata Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Manchester United sealed their place in the last eight of the competition

Manchester United bounced back from their FA Cup elimination with a 1-0 win over Rostov that sent them through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League. On a night where Paul Pogba struck the post yet again with a long range effort before having to be substituted with a muscle related injury, it was Juan Mata’s goal that sent the home side through in a close affair. 

For all of United’s possession, their struggles with finding a finish continued on the night but a solitary goal was sufficient to see them through on aggregate. Here are the talking points from the game.

#5 Mourinho continues his tactical experimentation

Antonio Valencia Rostov
Valencia, in particular, enjoyed the freedom Mourinho’s new tactic afforded

Having played his most inscrutable United formation up till now on Monday – with almost six defenders at the back for large parts of the game – Mourinho continued with his tactical tweaks against Rostov. With three central defenders at the back, Blind and Valencia were employed as wing-backs on either side of Pogba and Herrera in midfield, and to great effect. 

Valencia, in particular, enjoyed the freedom this game afforded to get past his man on several occasions although his crosses were often met by opposition defenders or diverted off target by team-mates. Mata and Mkhitaryan played between midfield and attack – with the latter making several runs past Zlatan to good effect but failing to find a finish.

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