Europa League: Manchester United targets knockout berth in Partizan clash

After its Premier League loss to Bournemouth, Manchester United will look to bounce back as it aims to book a berth in the last 32 of Europa League.

Manchester United, which won the Europa League 2017, can clinch a place in the last 32 of the competition this week, while group leader Celtic faces a “titanic game” away to Lazio.

United can punch its ticket to the knockout phase on Thursday with another win over Partizan Belgrade, the Serbian side coached by former Aston Villa striker Savo Milosevic.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team registered a 1-0 win in Belgrade a fortnight ago and is one of just two clubs yet to concede a goal in the competition.

The Norwegian urged his United players to bounce back from Saturday's 1-0 loss at Bournemouth that left them a dismal 10th in the table.

 

“You have got to react, you have got to recover,” said Solskjaer, who is still without Paul Pogba because of an ankle problem.

“We have two more games before the international break, we've got a chance on Thursday to qualify in Europe and then Brighton at home - so we need a response.”

The Reds will be without central defender Victor Lindelof, who has been ruled out after missing training this week. Axel Tuanzebe and Nemanja Matic were all absent as expected.

Man Utd's only previous home game against Partizan was a 1-0 win in the 1965-66 European Cup semi-final. However, it wasn't enough to reach the final as Partizan won 2-1 on aggregate.

As for Parizan, it has won just one of its nine away games against English sides in all competitions (D1 L7), beating Newcastle 1-0 in a Champions League qualifier in 2003.

 

- 'Huge incentive' for Celtic -

Back-to-back home wins have fired Celtic top of Group E and the Scottish champion could qualify with three points in the Italian capital, if Rennes fail to beat Cluj.

Neil Lennon's side will make the trip full of confidence after setting up a League Cup final clash with Rangers following a 5-2 win over Hibernian.

“We know what a huge incentive it is to go to Rome and get a result, and off the back of the semi-final win and the feel-good factor, psychologically, the players will all be in a good place,” said Lennon.

“It's a titanic game ahead of us, we know the calibre of opposition we've got on Thursday night in Lazio, but it's not beyond us.”

 

- Sevilla gunning for progression; Wolves eyes third straight win -

Steven Gerrard's Rangers faces two-time European champion Porto at Ibrox knowing a victory would leave it well positioned in Group G.

Wolves will look for a third consecutive win in Group K at home to Slovan Bratislava having recovered well from an opening loss in their first European campaign since 1980.

Record five-time winner Sevilla, which has maximum points and tops Group A, will advance with victory away to Luxembourg's Dudelange, while Roma travels to Borussia Moenchengladbach in Group J.

The two sides drew 1-1 in Italy a fortnight ago when Lars Stindl converted a contentious stoppage-time penalty for Gladbach.

Eintracht Frankfurt, which lost to eventual champion Chelsea on penalties in last season's semi-finals, will look to keep the momentum going against Standard Liege after Saturday's 5-1 demolition of Bayern Munich.

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