MANCHESTER United are in the final of a European competition for the seventh time – not exactly a Magnificent Seven; more a Lucky Seven.
Their season is alive and kicking – just – and a Champions League place is still there for the taking. But United got through to the Europa League Final by the skin of their teeth.
Not for the first time this season, Jose Mourinho’s men were anything but convincing, despite getting the perfect start through a Marouane Fellaini header.
This time Marcus Rashford, heroic scorer in the first leg, turned provider for the big Belgian whose header should have been saved by the Celta Vigo keeper.
That made the aggregate score 2-0 and there seemed no way back for Celta. But the Spaniards had other ideas.
As they sensed United nerves kicking in, the Spaniards had the home side on the back foot in the second half and were rewarded for their efforts with a header from Facundo Roncaglia.
It all kicked off after that and both United skipper Eric Bailly and Celta goalscorer Roncaglia were sent off after a mass brawl. The tension was at breaking point and the six minutes of injury time almost produced even more drama.
With United hanging on for their lives, Celta continued to push forward as they introduced Wayne Rooney who did his best to wind down the clock.
As that clock reached 96 minutes, John Guidetti missed a virtual open goal with what would have been the last kick of the game. Relief and smiles all round for United; despair and tears for Celta. Not least for a distraught Guidetti.
By hook or by crook United made it to the final in Stockholm where they will face Ajax, victors over Lyon in the other semi, after a dramatic finale. I’ve never seen Mourinho look so nervous.
‘Manchester United didn’t play well but they got through somehow, some way’, the words of BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand just about summed it up.
A relieved Mourinho said on BT Sport that if United triumph in Stockholm he will be ‘more than happy, more than happy’. They will need to play better against Ajax though.