Europa League | Thursday Dec 8, 2016 | Chornomorets Stadium Odessa | Attendance: TBC | Scorers: Mkhitaryan 48, Ibrahimovic 88
Manchester United advanced to the knockout stages of the Europa League. The Red Devils booked a place in the Europa League Round of 32 after a 2-0 victory over Zorya Luhansk in Odessa – on their own turf. United just needed a point to progress but Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first goal set United on the way to a comfortable win, which was sealed later by the Swedish maestro, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mkhitaryan (photo: above) who was a former Shakhtar Donetsk hitter dribbled through the Zorya Luhansk near-solid defence to open the scoring in the second half in Odessa and Ibrahimovic’s late clincher set the seal on a victory that has taken Manchester United through to the knockout stages of the Europa League in Europe.
HALF-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession: Zorya 24% United 76%
Shots: Zorya 3 United 10
Shots on target: Zorya 1 United 3
Corners: Zorya 0 United 7
MANUTD reported that “the second half began with United continuing to dominate and a reward duly arrived on 48 minutes when Mkhitaryan opened his Reds account with a fine goal. After the Reds won possession in midfield, the Armenian captain headed forward and waltzed through the Zorya defence, shimmying past a couple of players, before calmly slotting home. The United attacker clearly likes scoring goals at Chornomorets Stadium having netted a hat-trick here for Shakhtar Donetsk in 2012.”
Possession: Zorya 29% United 71%
Shots: Zorya 6 United 19
Shots on target: Zorya 2 United 7
Corners: Zorya 2 United 9
“It was a strong mentality,” said Manchester United boss when asked about Mkhitaryan’s attitude. “He was determined to fight against his difficult adaptation. He worked hard physically and tactically – the talent was there, we knew that when we bought him. Now he’s playing good – in the Premier League, Europa League and EFL Cup, and now the goal means a little more happiness for him, so I’m very pleased” Mourinho concluded.
Zorya Luhansk: Levchenko; Opansenko, Sivakov, Forster, Sukhotskiy; Karavaev, Kharatin (Grechyshkin 57), Chaykovskiy, Petriak; Ljubenovic (c) (Lipartia 72); Bezborodko (Bonaventure 54).
Subs not used: Shevchenko, Kulach, Paulinho, Checher.
United: Romero; Young, Bailly, Rojo, Blind; Herrera, Pogba; Mata (Lingard 65), Rooney (c) (Fellaini 70), Mkhitaryan (Fosu-Mensah 84); Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: De Gea, Jones, Martial, Rashford.
Booked: Herrera, Bailly.
Was Jose Mourinho pleased by what happened in Chornomorets Stadium in Odessa? You bet! Well, United is doing well on the Europa League trail than on the Premier League trail – and that has me worried. Let’s see what happens as Manchester United moves back to an important Premier League meeting with Tottenham in less than 50 hours or so away.
Up Man U!