Manchester United defeated Ajax 2-0 to take home their first ever Europa League trophy. Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the two goals which helped United round off a successful season, along with Champions League qualification next season. The win was a fitting tribute to the city of Manchester, who tragically lost many people to a terrorist attack just two days ago.
Ajax dominated the possession right from the start, but it was United who created more chances and got the first clear-cut opportunity. Fellaini failed to connect with Mata’s superb cross in the 9th minute, in what would’ve surely been a goal had there been any contact. United lead at the half-time break through Pogba’s deflected goal. Fellaini passed the ball to Pogba, who hit a decent left-footed strike which got a major deflection from Sanchez, beat Onana and found its way into the back of the net. Ajax’s only shot on target came in the 15th minute, when Traore’s well-taken strike was easily caught by Romero. Not only the possession was more, Ajax also had better passing in the first half, as they completed 84% of their passes compared to United’s 63%. However, it was United who went into the break with a lead.
United needed a second goal to take control of the match, and they did get one almost immediately, as Mkhitaryan scored in the 48th minute. Mata’s corner was headed by Smalling into Mkhitaryan’s path, who scored with a subtle overhead kick after losing his marker Veltman. Ajax tried their best to get back into the match, but were unable to do so due to some brilliant defending by United. United eventually held on to take the Europa League trophy back to Manchester.
Here are the Major Talking Points from the Match-
The Trophy that was Missing
United have won the Europa League for the first time ever, which makes them only the fifth club to have won all three major European trophies. And on top of that, winning this trophy means that they’ll be playing Champions League next season, which is a must for a club of this stature. The trophy also holds emotional significance, as it has brought together United and City fans, after that terrible attack in Manchester. Another reason to celebrate is that United are now officially England’s most successful team, as they now have 42 major trophies to Liverpool’s 41.
Mourinho is a Winner
Everybody knows that Mourinho is a born winner. He has won everywhere he’s gone, and is well known for delivering trophies almost immediately. However, not many had predicted him to win 2 major trophies along with the Community Shield in only his first season at the club and having done that further confirms the fact that Mourinho is the man to take United forward. The League Cup and the Europa League are just the foundations of Mourinho’s future success and mark the beginning of his prosperous era.
Brave Ajax go down Fighting
Ajax have had a good season so far, not just domestically, but in the Europa League as well. They were pretty confident coming into the game, and their squad has shown enough maturity to make up for their inexperience. However, they could not stop a fierce United side, who easily shut down the youngest ever squad in a European Final. Even though Peter Bosz accused United of using a long-ball approach, United were certainly the better side, and it was a contest of Men against Boys at times. Still, Ajax deserve place having had a remarkable season so far, and they’ll certainly be raring to go in the UCL next season.
Pogba and Micki Deserve Praise
Paul Pogba has had a mixed season so far, but has settled in well in the latter half of the season after his record transfer. However, he deserves a lot of praise for his efforts tonight, as he’s played through his personal grief having lost his father a fortnight ago. And he played exceptionally well, scoring the all important first goal and then controlling the midfield and dictating the play. He has somewhat justified the £89m with just one game, and he would certainly hope that someone breaks his transfer record in the summer, so that he could lose a bit of the limelight.
Another Mourinho signing, Mkhitaryan delivered the second goal to seal the win. He’s had an underwhelming season domestically, and sometimes frustrates by fading in and out of a match. But he has been United’s star of the Europa League, and deserves a lot of praise to take the limelight from Ibrahimovic who had been United’s talisman in other competitions.The Armenian has shown his credentials with the goal, and it is further proof that he will surely have a much better next season.
Busy Transfer Window Ahead
The Europa League win has given United not just a European Trophy, but also an entry into the Champions League next season, which would make United’s task of buying superstars easier in the summer, as every top player obviously wants UCL football. Signing players of the calibre of Griezmann, Lukaku, and even Bale is now very much possible, and Mourinho would probably get the money he wants to chase his targets to take his squad to the next level. Who knows, maybe de Gea also decides to stay at United. Whatever happens in the future, is it a certainty that we’re in for a busy and a blockbuster transfer window ahead.