Manchester United showed the influence of Jose Mourinho on Thursday, perhaps as much as it has during the manager’s first season at Old Trafford.
The injury-hit Red Devils took a 2-0 aggregate lead through Marouane Fellaini, then defended to the death in holding on to beat Celta Vigo 2-1.
United advances to play Ajax in the UEFA Europa League Final on May 24 in Sweden. Ander Herrera said they didn’t expect a cakewalk over Celta.
“Today we suffered. We suffered but we are in the final. This is the semifinal. You cannot win a semifinal calm. You cannot win a semifinal easily. They were playing the game of their lives, and we knew that in advance.”
Mourinho, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly reveling in making the final. Rather, the Portuguese manager was talking up some fairly predictable topics.
United’s congested schedule is on his mind, for one thing, at least in comparison to Ajax. The Dutch league finishes play Sunday, while United has three more matches and Mourinho says this gives Ajax an advantage.
Mourinho forgave Eric Bailly for his late red card, suggesting that the center back was naive in dealing with veteran Facundo Roncaglia. The injury comes where United is thinnest — center back — and will be a problem against dangerous Ajax.
Especially if United doesn’t finish its chances, which was again a problem on Thursday at Old Trafford. From the BBC:
“We were the best team in the first leg but we never kill, we never score goals related to the chances we have. … They were completely free of responsibility and gave us a very hard match. We suffered until the end and it was open until the last second. The boys gave everything they had. I’m really pleased for them.
“After 14 matches we are in the final. If we win the Europa League I am more than happy. It would be amazing.”