last 32

Mkhitaryan magic helps sends Mourinho's men through in the Europa League

Manhester United needed a point for Europa League progression, but they got all three courtesy of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

HENRIKH MKHITARYAN SCORED his first Manchester United goal as Jose Mourinho’s men won 2-0 at Zorya to seal their place in the Europa League knockout stages.

The Armenia international made the difference with a wonderful solo effort early in the second half as he continues to impress in his first consistent run in the team since joining from Borussia Dortmund in July.

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed victory with two minutes to go, the in-form striker making it seven goals in his last six appearances.

Mourinho’s men only needed a point on Thursday to be sure of securing a place in the last 32, but ended up sealing a victory that sees them finish second in Group A, behind Fenerbahce after the Turkish side won away to Feyenoord in the other game.

United had lost five straight away games in Europe going into the game – their worst ever run – but had a relatively comfortable evening in Ukraine in a match that failed to excite outside of Mkhitaryan’s moment of magic.

Zorya made a steady start and Igor Kharatin had a long-range drive impressively kept out by Sergio Romero, the goalkeeper in as one of six United changes.

Paul Pogba sent a swerving strike just wide for United but, despite the visitors’ dominance of possession, home keeper Igor Levchenko was not tested until the end of the first half.

Eric Bailly – playing his first match in over six weeks – sent an overhead kick straight at Levchenko, who then tipped over an impressive long-range drive from Wayne Rooney as the United captain’s wait to equal Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record continued.

Romero – who was startled by a flare thrown by the home support prior to Oleksandr Karavayev volleying wide of his near post – was similarly unoccupied in the United goal.

But the game burst into life when Mkhitaryan opened the scoring with a piece of brilliance after 48 minutes.

After Marcos Rojo had dispossessed Karavayev, Mkhitaryan collected the ball in the centre circle and ran unchallenged towards the penalty area before nutmegging Rafael Forster and producing a cool finish.

Ibrahimovic had a powerful strike saved by Levchenko before Mourinho brought on Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini for the closing stages.

United had to cope with one major scare when Romero made a reflex save after Mikhail Sivakov headed Dmytro Grechyshkin’s free-kick towards goal.

Ibrahimovic then wrapped up the win on the counter-attack, breaking the offside trap to race onto Pogba’s throughball and making no mistake with the finish as United extended their improved run of form to seven matches without defeat, with Bailly avoiding a second yellow card for a kick in stoppage time.

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