United aiming for cold comfort
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United faces Zorya Luhansk on Thursday knowing that a draw in freezing Ukraine will propel it into the knockout stages of the Europa League.
The Premier League club is striving to go through in style with a victory, even if Europe’s second-tier competition is not at the top of Mourinho’s priorities in his first season in charge at Old Trafford.
United will also be eager to end a bout of frustrating draws, the latest being a 1-1 stalemate at Everton last Sunday when Mourinho’s men conceded an 89th-minute equalizer from the penalty spot.
The Zorya match — Thursday is the last phase of Euro-
responded to criticism for committing the foul that led to Sergio Ramos’ equalizer for Madrid on Saturday.
“One moment doesn’t decide a game,” Enrique said in defense of the midfielder.
“We are not focused on that, and no matter what happens, players always need to score goals.”
Turan was perfectly placed to head Denis Suarez’s deflected cross home at the back post before producing a fine low finish into the far corner from Aleix Vidal’s cutback.
Paco Alcacer’s search for a first goal since his $32 million move from Valencia to Barca goes on.
The 23-year-old still made a contribution – crossing low as Turan completed his treble with a powerful finish that was too strong for Sommer to keep out.
pa League group games — will take place in Odessa, southern Ukraine, a fourhour flight from northern England, where the temperature will hover around freezing by kickoff.
Zorya is already out of the competition, but United’s French forward Anthony Martial is not expecting the Ukrainians just to lie down.
“It is very different, not just the supporters but the weather. Over there, it’s really cold at this time of the season,” Martial told MUTV.
“But it’s down to us to come to terms with that, adapt to the environment we find ourselves in and get the victory we need.
“We’re expecting a difficult encounter. Things went quite well for us in the home game (1-0 to United) but it will be different over there.
“They’ ll be in front of their own supporters and will be determined to make life difficult for us to get a result, so we’ ll be on our guard.”
United will also advance to the last 32 with a loss if Feyenoord fails to beat Fenerbahce at home in the other Group A match.
Another Premier League representative, Southampton, faces Israel’s Hapoel Beer-Sheva at St Mary’s knowing that victory or a scoreless draw will put it through.
Eight teams that failed to progress in the Champions League will also be added to the last-32 mix.
“It’s a huge game on Thursday and that’s all anyone is worried about now,” young midfielder Sam McQueen, fresh from signing a new four-and-a-half-year contract with the club, told Saints’ website.
“It’s a huge competition. You’re playing against a lot of different styles, which is only going to help me grow personally, as well as the team against new challenges.
“I think we’ve done well so far, but we wouldn’t be doing ourselves justice if we don’t win and get through the group.”
They may not be European household names but Republic of Ireland’s Dundalk and Qarabag, of Azerbaijan, can make a slice of history.
No Irish club has ever reached the knockout stages of a UEFA club competition but domestic champion Dundalk can change that if it wins at Maccabi Tel Aviv and AZ Alkmaar does not at home to Zenit St Petersburg.
A score draw for Dundalk would also suffice if AZ loses in the Netherlands.