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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.