English Premier League (EPL) side Manchester United lifted the Europa League trophy with a 2-0 victory over Ajax Amsterdam in the final, also securing an automatic spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League group phase….reports Asian Lite News
Injury-riddled Man United finished a mere sixth in the EPL and had to hinge on winning the Europa League as only the league’s top four could qualify for the Champions League, reports Xinhua news agency.
Both sides and the crowd in the Friends Arena observed a one-minute silence for the victims of the Manchester bomb attack on Monday night.
Manchester United put on huge pressure after the opening whistle on the Dutch side, who almost gifted their opponents a lead one minute into the game.
Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana had a clash with his teammate in an attempt to clear the ball, while leaving an empty net in front of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, whose shot went off the post.
Pogba took on a weak defence to break the deadlock for Manchester United on 18 minutes.
Ajax, whose starting XI averaged around 22 years in age, failed to concentrate on their defence against a throw in, before Marouane Fellaini fed Pogba for a shot from outside the penalty area. It took a deflection off Ajax defender Davinson Sanchez, and Onana made no quick response to that.
Manchester United built a two-goal lead early in the second half thanks to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s strike from a corner. After Chris Smalling headed the ball down, Mkhitaryan finished a brilliant hook into the net before defenders made a clearance in the 48th minute.
“The start was very important, we scored very early, then we got the second goal and we controlled the game,” Pogba said after the game.
Veteran striker Wayne Rooney, benched just before stoppage time, lifted the trophy as the team captain in what was probably his last appearance for Manchester United.
After sealing the victory in the Europa League, formerly known as UEFA Cup, Manchester United have joined Ajax, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Juventus in an elite band of teams to have won all three of UEFA’s major club trophies, namely European Champion Clubs’ Cup/Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League, and European Cup Winners’ Cup.