Fans are the Key: Herrera

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford taking on Celta Vigo's Gustavo Cabral (left) and Facundo Roncaglia during the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on May 4. Rashford scored the only goal of the match with a memorable free kick in the
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford taking on Celta Vigo's Gustavo Cabral (left) and Facundo Roncaglia during the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on May 4. Rashford scored the only goal of the match with a memorable free kick in the second half.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

United's bid for a first Europa League final in sight only if Old Trafford faithful back them

LONDON • Ander Herrera wants Manchester United's supporters to turn Old Trafford into a cauldron when his side look to complete victory over Celta Vigo in today's Europa League semi-final return leg.

Marcus Rashford's sweet second-half free kick brought United a 1-0 win in last week's first leg, putting Jose Mourinho's side within touching distance of the final in Stockholm on May 24.

But, although United have gone 17 European home games without defeat, Celta have scored in all six of their Europa League away matches this season, and Herrera says everyone in United red will have to be on their game.

"They have scored away in every game they've played in the competition, so we have to be aware of that," the Spanish midfielder said. "They are a very good team, very dangerous when they play away and we will need our fans at home.

"I tell them we really need them to create a good atmosphere, a difficult atmosphere for the opponents, who can push us to be in the final. It's not going to be easy."

AIMING TO STRIKE EARLY

It is still close... If we score another one, they (will) have to score two.

JOHN GUIDETTI , Celta Vigo's former Manchester City striker, on the need to score the opening goal at Old Trafford.

United have never won the Europa League and are bidding to reach a first continental final since their 3-1 loss to Barcelona at Wembley in the deciding match of the 2010-11 Champions League.

But, while success in Europe's second-tier competition will complete United's collection of trophies, what motivates them above all is the place in next season's Champions League that Europa League success will yield.

Mourinho has openly abandoned United's hopes of securing the top-four finish in the Premier League that would open the door to the Champions League.

He made eight changes to his starting XI for last Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, which brought an end to United's 25-game unbeaten run in the league and left them four points below fourth-placed Manchester City.

Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba and Rashford are among the players expected to return for United today.

Celta need not look far for inspiration, having overcome a 1-0 home defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk to prevail 2-1 on aggregate in the last 32. They can also call upon cup pedigree that saw them overcome Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of this season's King's Cup.

"It is still close," said Celta striker John Guidetti, who was formerly on the books of City. "It is half-time. They are leading 1-0 and we have to go out and make the second half count.

"At the end of the day, if we go to Old Trafford and score the first goal, we are in the driving seat because if we score another one, they (will) have to score two."

Peter Bosz's dazzling young Ajax team are likely to be awaiting the victors in the final, having beaten Lyon 4-1 in the home leg of their semi-final.

But Lyon, who play the second leg at their stadium today, have averaged more than four goals per game in their Europa League home matches and coach Bruno Genesio believes his side's 3-2 victory over Nantes on Sunday showed they are capable of a comeback.

"There's an hour and a half to overcome our deficit," he said. "We'll have to create chances and take them, but also remain calm and organised when we lose the ball.

"We have to remember that we scored three goals. And if we score three on Thursday, we could go through."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAN UNITED V CELTA VIGO

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2017, with the headline 'Fans are the Key: Herrera'. Print Edition | Subscribe