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Manchester United earn 1-1 draw on threadbare pitch at Rostov

Manchester United earn 1-1 draw on threadbare pitch at Rostov

Manchester United's Russian assignment proved as tough as expected, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan's strike on Rostov's quagmire pitch could prove crucial after the first instalment of this Europa League last-16 encounter ended in a credible draw.

United coach Jose Mourinho complained about the quality of the pitch before the game, but his side had the benefit of a strong wind for the first half.

With regard to juggling team selection during the congested period, Mourinho said: "I would say it is just [about] details - the player that you feel can not play three matches in a row, you have to think which one he rests".

Jose Mourinho and his men will be really confident ahead of this match given that Rostov have never faced an English team before, but the bigger concern prior to this match was the condition of the pitch.

When asked about the surface during a pre-match press conference held on Wednesday morning, Mourinho was scathing in his assessment and suggested that concerns regarding the turf had left his selection plans in tatters. He just told me the players are insured, so what happens to them is no problem. It's a very similar pitch to the one in Beijing [when the game was called off].

So it's back to the cups we go, and to the Europa League, which looks to be United's best chance of qualifying for next year's Champions League and keeping all their sponsors happy.

Meanwhile, Mourinho will not sacrifice United's FA Cup hopes by fielding a team of youngsters from Nicky Butt's academy for their sixth-round tie at Chelsea on Monday just to ensure they stay in the Europa League.

Image: Jose Mourinho and other members of the Man United squad inspecting the pitch in Russian Federation.

If there was one player who benefitted from United's direct approach, it was Marouane Fellaini.

In this Mourinho is taking a sharply different course of action to Manchester City, who last season sent a hopelessly weakened side to Chelsea as their manager, Manuel Pellegrini, prioritised the Champions League.

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