https://www.sportinglife.com – Marcus Rashford celebrates.
Manchester United have one foot in the Europa League last four after a 2-0 quarter-final first-leg win at Granada but Arsenal concede an injury-time equaliser to draw 1-1 at home to Slavia Prague.
United’s triumph leaves them heavy favourites to reach the semi-finals with the second leg at Old Trafford to come but Arsenal will head to the Czech Republic next Thursday needing to score at least once to progress.
It was another night of profit for Sporting Life readers after Jake Pearson tipped Slavia Prague on the Asian handicap and Liam Kelly correctly forecast under 1.5 goals in the first leg between Dinamo Zagreb and Villarreal, which was won 1-0 by the visitors.
We were close to even more profit but Bruno Fernandes’ 90th-minute penalty for United cruelly denied Liam another under 1.5 goals tip.
Roma won 2-1 at Ajax in Thursday night’s fourth quarter-final first leg.
Granada 0-2 Manchester United
Marcus Rashford shook off injury concerns to help Manchester United to victory at Granada as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side took a giant step towards the Europa League semi-finals.
Having overcome Real Sociedad and AC Milan after dropping out of the Champions League, the road to May’s Gdansk finale continued with what was the biggest match in the Andalusian hosts’ 90-year history.
Rashford’s role against European debutants Granada had been uncertain ahead of the quarter-final first leg, but the forward started and scored a fine opener added to by Bruno Fernandes’ late penalty in a 2-0 win.
The 23-year-old limped out of Sunday’s win against Brighton on his return from the ankle complaint that ruled him out of England duty and Solskjaer selected him on Thursday despite admitting the forward was not fully fit.
Rashford looked in discomfort within minutes of kick-off in Spain, but he dug deep and capped his bright first-half performance by opening the scoring when giving Victor Lindelof’s outstanding pass the finish it deserved.
The England forward brilliantly controlled the ball and slotted home his 20th goal of the campaign, becoming the first United player to reach that tally in successive seasons since Wayne Rooney in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Rashford was replaced in the 65th minute and Fernandes added another away goal at the death heading into a second leg that Scott McTominay, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire will miss through suspension.
Granada did not seriously test recalled goalkeeper David De Gea on a night when hordes of fans locked out of the game instead lined the streets hoping to inspire the La Liga side to a famous result.
Arsenal 1-1 Slavia Prague
Arsenal conceded a last-gasp equaliser at home to Slavia Prague to leave their Europa League quarter-final tie finely poised.
Nicolas Pepe had come off the bench to seemingly win the game for the Gunners with his strike four minutes from time, but the hosts could not hold on to their advantage as Tomas Holes headed in an equaliser to earn Slavia a 1-1 draw.
The first leg at the Emirates Stadium looked set to end in a goalless stalemate as Arsenal passed up a number of fine chances.
But club-record signing Pepe found the net with a deft chip to open the scoring only for Holes to level late on.
Mikel Arteta opted to drop captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the bench for the game, which saw both Willan and Alexandre Lacazette hit the woodwork.
Slavia, who have seen off Leicester and Rangers in previous rounds, had a couple of good opportunities of their own and ultimately scored what could prove to be a crucial away goal as Holes arrived at the back post to leave Arteta crestfallen on the touchline.