Man Utd to finish the job
Jose within touching distance of final
Manchester United host Celta Vigo at Old Trafford on Thursday evening in the Europa League semi-finals, live in front of the BT Sport cameras from 8.05pm. That mouth-watering tie is one of two live games scheduled, the other being Ajax’s trip to Lyon.
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United in the driving seat
Manchester United shook off their bad habit of drawing matches 1-1 when taking a narrow 1-0 win over Celta Vigo at the Balaidos last week. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal on the game on 67 minutes, which is the difference between the sides going in to this week’s renewal.
The United wonderkid hit an inch-perfect free-kick to delight the travelling support and see his team mates and management breathe a sigh of relief. This tie is still very much in the balance, but an away goal, coupled with a clean-sheet on the road, goes some way to explaining why our traders have United chalked up as odds-on favourites to qualify, 1/10 to get into the final, where they are expected to face Ajax.
The locals will now want to protect that lead, but they can leave nothing to chance here, and Mourinho has watched in despair more than once as his side wasted great opportunities to score for 99% of the match, only to see their opponents go up the other end and deliver a sucker-punch. Everyone in the home dressing room will be determined not to make heavy weather of this.
Reds hot favourite for win
The easiest way to avoid an uncomfortable night’s work is to win the match with plenty to spare, and our traders have a home cheer chalked up on the betting board at 1/2, a very fair price, considering there’s still plenty of life left in this tie, and one that should prove popular in midweek accumulators.
Backers looking for a bit more for their stake money can take a chance on United following on from that effort in Spain and winning to nil. That trades as a 6/4 option, while there’s 7/2 on Rashford netting first again. Those who enjoy keeping the stats close will find it useful to know that the home side have won three of their last four Europa League ties at this venue without conceding.
Ajax to continue their scoring ways
Ajax appear to have got the job done at the first time of asking and take a 4-1 lead to France. Granted, Lyon did grab that crucial away goal, meaning they are still mildly competitive, but a three-goal cushion should be more than enough to see the Dutch side progress to the main event.
Traore grabbed a double last week in Amsterdam, which was enhanced by Dolberg and Younes. Valbuena struck back at 3-0 to tighten things up a little, but it was all too brief, with the victors finishing the job five minutes later.
Ajax are now 1/7 to qualify, but 7/2 to win a match they shouldn’t really be looking to take. If the visitors remain competitive and stay within that three-goal margin, they’ll progress. An away goal will put this one to bed, and we have both to score at 2/5.