Jose Mourinho guides United to glory as they secure a place in next season’s Champions League in Stockholm
MANCHESTER UNITED will be back among the big boys next season after defeating Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League Final.
Paul Pogba’s opener was followed by an acrobatic finish from Henrikh Mkhitaryan to secure the trophy and a place in the Champions League.
After missing out on the top four in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho knew that victory would be the only way for his men to qualify for Europe’s showpiece competition.
Keep up to date with all the latest news, gossip, rumours and done deals in SunSport’s live transfer blog
And it was two of his big-money signings from last summer that produced the goods for him and gave the city a huge lift after this week’s atrocities.
Following a pre-match minute silence in remembrance of the Manchester terror attack victims, world-record signing Pogba paid his own tribute as he pointed to the heavens after netting on 18 minutes.
It came with a large slice of fortune as the French star struck a shot from 25 yards towards goal.
His effort deflected off Davinson Sanchez, wrong-footing Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, and sailed into the net.
That put United firmly in control, and any hopes of a comeback from the Dutch side were quickly extinguished just three minutes after the break.
A corner was swung in and met by the head of Red Devils defender Chris Smalling, who proceeded to nod it down for Mkhitaryan to scissor-kick home from close-range.
Ajax offered little after that as United cruised to victory and back into the big time to spark the celebrations in Stockholm.
Facts, Stats, Goals and Lols
- THE silence to honour the victims of the Manchester terror attacks turned into defiant applause.
- PAUL POGBA pointed to the sky when he scored. He recently lost his father Fassou Antoine.
- JOSE MOURINHO’S celebration for the goals were subdued. He remained in his seat for Pogba’s as the rest of the bench leapt up in delight, then barely cracked a smile for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
- UNITED players, even those not in the matchday squad, were in grey cup-final suits but the Special One wasn’t, he wore dark trousers and a jumper.
- ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVICH was there at the Friends Arena where he scored his amazing scissor-kick for Sweden against England. He was driven on a golf buggy as he protects his injured knee.
- WITH Ibra injured and Eric Bailly banned, United’s ONLY other summer signings – Pogba and Mkhitaryan – were the goalscorers that put the game out of Ajax’s reach.
- UNITED had much more experience than Ajax. The Dutch team’s starting line-up averaged at 22.18 years old, while United were 27.08.
- BERTRAND TRAORE’S first-half display showed he could be useful to Chelsea next season when he returns from his loan at Ajax.
- CHRIS SMALLING’S future at United may be in doubt but he did get the nod ahead of Phil Jones. Also played his part in second goal and put in a good defensive display.
- WAYNE ROONEY came off the bench for the final few moments as this major final had the look of a new era for United. Fans were calling for Roo to appear in the second half. David De Gea was also among the subs and his future looks uncertain.
Manchester United fans celebrating inside the Friends Arena Manchester United team clapping the fans after Europa League final win
Dream Team Ratings
Manchester United: Romero 7, Valencia 7, Smalling 8, Blind 7, Darmian 7, Herrera 7, Pogba 7, Mata 6 (Rooney 90, 6), Fellaini 9, Mkhitaryan 7 (Lingard 74, 6), Rashford 6 (Martial 84, 6)
Subs not used: De Gea, Jones, Carrick, Fosu-Mensah
Ajax: Onana 6, Veltman 6, Sanchez 7, de Ligt 6, Riedewald 6 (de Jong 82, 6), Klaasen 6, Schone 6 (van de Beek 70, 6), Ziyech 6, Traore 6, Dolberg 5 (Neres 62, 6), Younes 6
Subs not used: Tete, Westermann, Boer, Kluivert
Dream Team Star Man: MAROUANE FELLAINI
What They Said
Paul Pogba speaking to BT Sport: “We did it. We are very proud. Nobody can talk. They said we had a bad season but we have three trophies (including Community Shield).
“The start was important and after the goals we controlled the game. Great performance from everybody in the team.”
On the attacks in Manchester, he added: “These things are terrible all over the world, in London and in Paris. We went out focused to win and we won for Manchester and the country.”
Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata speaking to BT Sport: “We have won a trophy the club has never won so we are really happy.
“It means a lot as it is my first European trophy with United and after what happened yesterday it is nice to bring a trophy back for Manchester.
“It has been a really difficult week in the city of Manchester and we are happy to win for all the people that have suffered.”