MANCHESTER: Manchester United pushed further claims for favourites to win the UEFA Europa Leage, as they beat French side Saint Etienne comfortably to win the first leg of the round of 32, finishing 3-0 at home.
A place in the round of 16 beckons for United, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw off Saint Etienne with his first ever Manchester United hat trick , and should the side from greater Manchester score another goal in France, Saint Etienne would need to score atleast five goals on Wednesday at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in order to turn this tie around.
The wins extends Mourinho’s teams unbeaten home run to 20 and extends a 100 % home win record in European competition.
In terms of History, budget and popularity, Manchester United dwarf Saint Etienne, but as it was a match between the sixth placed team in England and the fifth placed team in France, the visitors looked to exploit united on some occasions and to be fair, they had their fair share of chances as Sergio Romero who had started all of the games for united europa campaign so far, was called into action a number of times.
While Stephane Ruffier was the only ‘hero’ for the visiting team as they battled to keep an in form united at bay denying the likes of Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba as they threatened to rip the French clubs defense apart.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first after being brought down near the opposition’s goal, and the resulting free kick slowly creeped past Stephane Ruffier as he and his team looked on. It was not a beautiful free kick by the swede but it was somehow effective.
Jose Mourinho should also be appreciated for his substitutes as he introduced the likes of Jese Lingard and Marcus Rashford introducing pace into United’s attacking line, as Marcus Rashford made the brilliant run which resulted in Ibrahimovic’s Second goal.
Ibrahimovic finished the French visitors off rather comfortably as extra time was about to begin, after he was awarded a soft penalty by the referee , he rattled the bottom left of Saint Etienne’s goal while Ruffier had completely misjudged him and had dived in the opposite direction.
It was a special day for Paul Pogba as his side faced his elder brother’s side in Manchester, and a proud and confusing day for their mother as she could not side with one team