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Harry Maguire underlines Man Utd’s Europa League ambitions

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire insists the Red Devils are keen to recreate the famous 2016/17 success and lift the Europa League trophy this season.

Maguire was spot on as Erik ten Hag’s charges claimed a 1-0 second-leg win at Real Betis on Thursday, reaching the quarter-finals as 5-1 aggregate winners following a sublime first-leg showing at Old Trafford.

It’s been six years since the Red Devils last had a taste of continental glory, although it did come as Europa League winners under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship in 2017.

The 30-year-old defender says Man Utd belong to the Champions League, yet he is adamant they’ll be looking to conquer the Europa League this season.

“We’re in to win it,” he told the National News after Thursday’s triumph at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

“If you look at the last 5-10 years, the competition has really picked up.

“It’s not the competition we want to be in as a club, we want to be in the Champions League, but it’s a great competition. There’s a lot of strong teams in it.”

Maguire, who recorded just his sixth competitive start for the Red Devils after the World Cup, celebrated his England call-up with a superb display in Andalusia.

Despite his restricted playing time, the former Leicester City centre-back is still committed to United’s cause, confessing he understands ten Hag’s choice to play Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez over him.

“You’ve known me since I joined this club and know I always want to be on that pitch and leading the team out,” he added.

“I want to strive to play every game for this club, but I also understand that the lads playing are playing well, really well.

“They’re top-quality centre-backs who are in good form. And that’s football. We also know that things can change quickly in football.”

After ousting Betis, Man Utd will face six-time Europa League winners Sevilla in a mouth-watering quarter-final tie.

Los Rojiblancos have become synonymous with the Europa League over the past decade. But they’re no longer a shadow of a team that made history with three consecutive titles between 2014 and 2016.

Jorge Sampaoli’s men are staring down the barrel of a season-long fight against relegation in La Liga and have barely squeezed past Fenerbahce in the Europa League round of 16.

While they’re expected to put Man Utd to a more severe test than their fellow Andalusian rivals Betis, the Red Devils will be odds-on favourites to make it to the semi-finals.

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