MARK O'HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) takes up the controls as Manchester United take on Rostov in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Manchester United v Rostov | Thursday 20:05 | BT Sport
Manchester United picked up a creditable draw and valuable away goal in Rostov last week and Jose Mourinho’s men should be well fancied to seal progression with a positive result back at Old Trafford.
Mourinho opted to match the Russians 3-5-2 formation and for the bulk of the contest, United appeared the more likely. However, a dreadful surface and a match littered with fouls hampered the Premier League outfit and Rostov pinched a second-half leveller.
The Europa League is Man Utd’s best avenue for Champions League football in 2017/18 and although Mou’s men are winless since securing League Cup glory at Wembley, it’s hard to ignore their claims for a second leg success here.
Fortress Old Trafford
The hosts are unbeaten in 22 Old Trafford outings across all competitions since September and boast a superbly strong continental record at the Theatre of Dreams since 2013 (W11-D3-L0). The Red Devils have won their last three Europa League ties here by at least a two-goal margin.
What’s more, the Red Devils haven’t conceded a goal from open play in eight home outings and are coming up against a Rostov side that’s missing key personnel and has failed to notch in eight of their past 11 road trips.
Rostov missing key personnel
Ivan Daniliants’ team arrive with only two triumphs in 16 games as guests this term and make the journey without suspended experienced midfielder Alexandru Gatcan and Timofei Kalachev – who created the equaliser for Aleksandr Bukharov last week.
Defender Vladimir Granat broke his collarbone last Thursday and will also be absent whilst first-choice goalkeeper Soslan Dzhanaev remains a major doubt having been out injured since December.
The betting angle
With United prohibitively short, we need to look elsewhere for our best bet. So chuck Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score at anytime alongside the Manchester Untied win for generous 10/11 quotes from Ladbrokes on Thursday evening.
The Swedish legend has scored 26 goals this season in 40 appearances since arriving in Manchester, has bagged goals in seven of his last eight games and also grabbed a hat-trick in United’s last Europa League game here.
Manchester United v Rostov – Manchester United to win and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score (10/11 Ladbrokes)