Europa League, Last 32, second leg, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard – St Etienne 0 Manchester United 1 (Mkhitaryan 16′)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the only goal of the game but then limped off with a suspected hamstring injury, as Manchester United beat St Etienne 1-0 at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Wednesday to complete a 4-0 aggregate win.The Armenian still seemed in discomfort at the final whistle after getting up from the substitutes’ bench, and could be a doubt for the EFL Cup final against Southampton on Sunday.
United were rarely threatened by an off-colour St Etienne side, fifth in Ligue 1 but with just one win from four matches going into tonight’s game, even after Eric Bailly was sent off for two bookable offences with 27 minutes of the game to go.
The Ivorian, who was already one yellow away from suspension, will be suspended for the first leg of the Round of 16 and could be banned again later in the competition if he gets another caution .
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Young is likely to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season after being reduced to a bit-part role under Jose Mourinho, but, playing tonight at right-back, the former England international looked a threat going forward and dealt well with his defensive duties, snuffing out the threat of Kevin Monnet-Paquet down Saint-Etienne’s left flank. Young’s positioning needs work, but Sir Alex Ferguson turned another winger, Antonio Valencia, into an effective full-back. Could Jose do the same for Young?
The Armenian limped off at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard just nine minutes after opening the scoring with his sixth goal of the season, and must now be a doubt for the EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, indeed Mourinho indicated afterwards that it is unlikely that the midfielder will play on Sunday.
United, playing their 44th match of the season, have the squad to deal with injuries but Mkhitaryan’s fine form is a big factor in why United have only lost once in their last 25 games.
The Red Devils will end up playing 66 matches this season if they make the FA Cup and Europa League finals, and a spell without their most technically talented player will test United’s quest for a treble.
Manchester United: Romero 7, Young 8, Smalling 7, Bailly 7, Blind 7, Carrick 7, Pogba 7, Fellaini 6, Mata 7, Mkhitaryan 7, Ibrahimovic 7. Subs: Rashford 7, Schweinsteiger 7, Rojo 7.
Saint Etienne: Ruffier 6, Malcuit 6, Theophile-Catherine 7, Perrin 7, Pogba 6,Veretout 7, Pajot 7, Beric 5, Monnet-Paquet 6, Saivet 6, Hamouma 7. Subs: Jorginho ‘6, Roux 6, Lemoine 6.
16′ – GOAL! Saint Etienne 0-1 Manchester United. Agg 0-4. Mkhitaryan gets in front of Perrin to poke home Mata’s cross to thenear post. That is game over, almost certainly.
25′ INJURY UPDATE! Marcus Rashford is coming on for Mkhitaryan, who is holding his hamstring and may now be a doubt for Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton.
39′- CHANCE! Perrin heads a free header straight at Romero from Veretout’s angled free-kick into the box, following Young’s foul on Beric.
43′- CHANCE! Romero is unconvincing dealing with Monnet-Paquet’s run down the left channel from Saivet’s pass, but the Argentine gets enough on the ball to stop tthe Saint Etienne forward.
57′ PENALTY SHOUT! Pogba goes down under the challenge from Theophile-Catherine from Zlatan’s angled pass in the box. No complaints from the Frenchman, though, as the German referee rules no foul.
63′ – RED CARD: And, moments after his first yellow card, Bailly then gets a second yellow card for a foul on Hamouma on the halfway line, and will miss the first leg of the Europa League Round of 16 first leg.
Manchester United have now kept four successive clean sheets in European competitions.
Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who celebrates his 30th birthday tonight, has let in just two goals in nine appearances under Jose Mourinho.