Paul Pogba’s passing can make up for goal drought but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury could really finish Manchester United’s season

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FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT

Jose Mourinho made a mistake by resting in-form midfielder Andre Herrera who starred against Chelsea

MANCHESTER UNITED took a giant leap closer to Europa League glory and a direct route into next season’s Champions League but at a serious cost.

Serious looking injuries to Zlatan Ibrahimovic –  the club’s only prolific finisher – and improved defender Marcos Rojo, left Jose Mourinho’s top-four hopes in tatters.

AP:Associated Press

Paul Pogba once again could not score for Manchester United but he helped his side get over the line

But United will not need a strong league finish if they win the competiton and, on this gritty showing, it’s in their grasp. Here are five things we learnt from Old Trafford:


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PAUL POGBA cannot buy a goal but he could sell one of his defence-splitting passes for millions.

The world’s most expensive footballer has been criticised for his finishing in Jose Mourinho’s team this season as only Ibrahimovic has done the business in front of goal.

Paul Pogba failked to get on the scoresheet but his early pass for the opening goal was a thing of beauty

Getty Images

Paul Pogba failked to get on the scoresheet but his early pass for the opening goal was a thing of beauty

But his pinpoint pass in the build-up to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s opener was worth its weight in goals.

The Frenchman turned an Anderlecht midfielder before hitting a raking ball into Marcus Rashford’s path.

UNITED lost another centre-back to injury on the same day it was revealed Burnley star Michael Keane is quitting the club in the summer.

Marcos Rojo suffered a nasty looking knee twist after just 23 minutes and he joins Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the treatment room for what could be a lengthy stay.

But United could already have a new defender lined up with Keane reportedly eager to leave Turf Moor.

Marcos Rojo had emerged as one of United’s best defenders but now joins Chris Smalling and Phile Jones on the treatment table

AP:Associated Press

Marcos Rojo had emerged as one of United’s best defenders but now joins Chris Smalling and Phile Jones on the treatment table

The United academy graduate left to join Burnley in 2015 for £2.5million, after a lack of first team chances under then-boss Louis van Gaal.

The 24-year-old has proved himself a top-flight talent and earned his first England call-up this season.

Tottenham have also been credited with a serious interest in Keane but United could leap ahead of them this weekend when they face… Burnley.

Burnley's Michael Keane is to leave the club at the end of the season

Reuters

Burnley’s Michael Keane is to leave the club at the end of the season

 

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says Anthony Martial needs to give more

JOSE MOURINHO made the big call to drop or rest Ander Herrera after his masterclass against Chelsea at the weekend and it backfired with fans calling for the benched Spaniard.

The Portuguese raved about the attacking qualities of Anderlecht’s midfield after their first-leg battle but then dropped the man who man-marked Eden Hazard out of the game on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho took a risk dropping Ander Herrera and it did not look a good call

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Jose Mourinho took a risk dropping Ander Herrera and it did not look a good call

Ander Herrera was class in the win over Chelsea but lost his place against Anderlecht

Rex Features

Ander Herrera was class in the win over Chelsea but lost his place against Anderlecht

The United boss said: “It is impossible for Herrera to play every match unless you are the only centre backs we have in the team.

“Mentally we played against the leaders and it is important to have a bit of rotation. He is fit and is on the bench. We might need him to help us.”

The United midfielders that got the nod ahead of Herrera were all caught napping when Sofiane Hanni fired in the equaliser.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered a nasty injury to his right knee late in the game

Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered a nasty injury to his right knee late in the game

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC never made it to extra-time after suffering a horrible knee injury in the final seconds of the game and will be a doubt for the rest of Man United’s season.

The Swedish striker leapt into the air for a header but landed awkwardly, with his right leg bending in on itself.

The self-proclaimed lion roared in pain but managed to hobble off without the help of the stretcher that was sent on to haul him off the pitch.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic shows off his skipping skills in new underwear ad

The powerful Swede looked in real pain as he dragged himself off the floor and hobbled off

PA:Press Association

The powerful Swede looked in real pain as he dragged himself off the floor and hobbled off

Anthony Martial was sent on to replace Zlatan and the fight to finish in the Premier League’s top four just got a lot harder without the club’s leading scorer.

Juan Mata is United’s second most prolific player this season and is already out until the summer after surgery.

That leaves Marcus Rashford – who has just five Premier League goals this season – their most prolific and fit player, especially after the winner here.

MANCHESTER UNITED were run close by this Anderlecht side but – just like their dogged win against Chelsea – they got over the line in trademark Jose Mourinho style.

They lost two big players to injury but Luke Shaw returned with a promising performance, after looking a lost cause.

And Rashford proved that he can handle the pressure of the big games with his beautiful touch and finish.

If anyone can bludgeon his way to a trophy it is United’s Portuguese boss and his young chargers now look like they are buying into his siege mentality.

Saturday Premier League match preview featuring West Ham v Everton



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