It was always going to be tough going out in Russia, and when the state of the pitch became evident, things looked even harder. However, Jose Mourinho’s men managed to come away with a 1-1 draw, which isn’t too bad when all things are considered.
The away goal could well be crucial come the full-time whistle of the second leg – and it came courtesy of Henrikh Mkhitaryan on his return.
Perhaps the oddest thing about the game was the switch to a three centre-back formation, and after the fixture, the self-proclaimed Special One was very complimentary towards Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind – who did a decent job.
“That’s the way they play on this pitch and so the best thing to do was to play three at the back.” Jose Mourinho is quoted as saying by the Daily Star.
“Our three central defenders had a very positive game. The midfield fought for the second goal and tried to give something in attack.”
Blind was certainly my pick of the bunch out of the three. However, it was a mistake from Phil Jones that led to the Rostov equaliser. His recent form must be a concern to the manager, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dropped next time out.
In my opinion, our centre-backs (aside from Eric Bailly) just aren’t good enough and that is an area of the field that needs some major work. Obviously we’ll have to stick with what we have from now until the summer, so we’ll just see how it goes.