Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a goal in each half as their team comfortably outclassed Ajax Amsterdam to win an emotional Europa League final 2-0 and qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.
A minute’s silence held for the victims of Monday’s suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester in which 22 people died turned into applause as chants of “Manchester” and “We’ll Never Die” bellowed out from the English supporters before the match.
World record signing Pogba opened the scoring in the 18th minute as United won the ball after an Ajax throw-in, the Frenchman’s shot taking a wicked deflection to wrong-foot goalkeeper Andre Onana and fly into the net.
Mkhitaryan then flicked the ball home early in the second half following a corner and, with chants of “Manchester, Manchester” echoing around the stadium, United held on to win the one European trophy missing from the Old Trafford cabinet.
“We know things like this are very sad all over the world,” said Pogba referring to the attack. “We had to focus. Manchester – we won for them. We played for England, we played for Manchester and we played for them — the people who died.”
“The goal was to win all the way through this season. We’ve done it, and we’re proud,” said Pogba. “People say we’ve had a bad season but the prize is great and we’ve done it now. We have three trophies so enjoy it now,” he added.
United’s triumph followed success in the League Cup and the Community Shield in Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge at Old Trafford with Champions League football secured after United could only manage a sixth-place finish in the Premier League.
“We preferred to reach the Champions League this way than finish fourth, third or second,” said Mourinho. “We got the objective, we are back in the Champions League by winning a title, an important title. The club now has every title in world football. We fought hard for this since the beginning.”