United aim­ing for cold com­fort

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Paris

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.

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