Summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan stole the show as Manchester United ran out convincing winners in the Ukrainian city of Odessa.
The win, which marked the former Borussia Dortmund attacker’s first goal for the Red Devils since his £26 million move from the Bundesliga outfit, also ensured that Jose Mourinho’s men are into the knockout stage of the Europa League.
Manchester United was dominant all through the first half against a Zorya Luhansk side managed by Yuriy Vernydub, managing an amazing ball possession of 76%, but the English outfit was only limited to long-range efforts from Paul Pogba and captain Wayne Rooney. Things took a twist early in the second hand as Mkhitaryan dribbled all the way from halfway and applied a composed finish to mark his first goal for United in just three starts.
Mourinho’s side was looking to get the better of Turkish giants Fenerbahce, but the latter’s 0-1 win away to Feyenoord ensured that the English giants finished second in the group, one point behind the leaders. Another summer recruit in the shape of Zlatan Ibrahimovic wrapped up things towards the end of the match by slotting home in the 88th minute.
Step-in keeper Sergio Romero made a key save that saw United maintain the lead before the Swedish man completed the job and despite coming in the second position, Manchester United have been earmarked as favorites to lift the trophy. Also, finishing in the second position means United go into Monday’s draw as an unseeded side with the likelihood of meeting group winners such as Zenit St. Petersburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Fiorentina, Roma, Schalke, Ajax, and Athletic Bilbao.
The good side
Manchester United fans will be delighted to see Henrikh Mkhitaryan finally getting what many thought he deserved right from the start – a spot in the first eleven. The good side of the story is that in his three starts in a row, the Armenia captain has managed two assists and one goal. Is he finally showing glimpses of what made him the Bundesliga players’ player of the season before making his move to the English Premier League? Definitely, especially after last night’s performances on a pitch that his manager had described as “difficult” ahead of the clash.
With the Old Trafford side facing Tottenham on Sunday as it looks to close the gap between the two, fans will also be happy that key players such as David De Gea and Anthony Martial did not feature in the win. Similarly, many will be pleased to know that Eric Baily is finally back on the pitch since suffering an injury in Chelsea’s 4-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge in October. Another positive also comes from the giant Ibrahimovic, who seems to be defying age as he netted his sixth goal in seven games.
Man of the Match – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Who was your man of the match?