|• Europa 2016|17 : United 1-0 FC Zorya | Report|
United: Romero, Fosu-Mensah 74 Bailly 63 Smalling, Rojo,
Fellaini, Pogba, Lingard 67 Mata 74 Rashford, Ibrahimovic 69
Substitute: Rooney 67 Martial 74 Young 74
FC Zorya: Shevchenko, Kamenyuka 90 Sivakov, Forster, Sobol,
Karavaev, Grechyshkin, Chaykovskiy 80 Petriak, Ljubenovic 76 Kulach 60 Substitute: Paulinho 60 Lipartia 76 Gordiyenko 80
Europa 2016|17 : United 1-0 FC Zorya | Report
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal in the 2nd-half was enough to help United to a crucial Europa League victory over Zorya Luhansk on Thur evening with the Reds being frustrated for long periods of the match but found the breakthrough 20 mins from time. Jose Mourinho had stressed the importance of winning the game in pre-match press conference while delivered on his promise to start the Swede with also Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and in-form Marcus Rashford included in the strong United line-up. Following the weekend’s 4-1 dismantling of Leicester City, the Reds again played with intent from the start but it was Zorya who registered 1st effort at goal but Zeljko Ljubenovic's shot was well blocked by Eric Bailly. United were in total control of possession in the opening stages, though a notable chance for Mourinho’s men didn’t arrive until the 20-minute mark, when Ibrahimovic’s deflected effort from the edge of the box looped into the air and narrowly wide.
It was a close call which sparked some life into the Reds, and the deadlock was so nearly broken just moments later, when Pogba glanced Mata’s corner into the path of Rashford, whose powerful strike cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.
During a half when chances were few and far between, neither side fashioned an opening again until the 38th minute, when Tim Fosu-Mensah regained possession for United on the edge of the Zorya area, but Mata couldn’t direct his header on target from Pogba’s cross.
Five minutes before the break, the Reds then had two half-opportunities in quick succession, as Zorya defender Rafael Forster stabbed the ball just wide of his own goal, before Fellaini’s header bounced up off the turf and over the top.
It meant the sides went in level at the interval, with the game finely poised ahead of an important 45 minutes.
The second period soon fell into a similar pattern, with the Ukrainian side looking to hit United on the break. They might have done so, had Ljubenovic made contact with team-mate Olexandr Karavaev’s delivery, but it was just beyond the midfielder’s reach. United, by contrast, were still dominating in terms of possession, without creating any real goalscoring chances.
The game’s first shot on target came just after the hour mark, when substitute Paulinho forced Sergio Romero into a routine save with a curling effort. It was a chance nonetheless, and one which prompted Mourinho into bringing on Wayne Rooney.
Moments after his introduction, the skipper was immediately involved in United’s opener, skewing an effort into the path of Ibrahimovic, who couldn’t miss with his header at the far post from close range. The goal - Zlatan's sixth since moving to Manchester in the summer - brought relief around Old Trafford.
Having kept the Reds at bay for so long, Zorya were visibly disappointed, and almost conceded again when Fellaini volleyed over with time running out. The away side had a late chance through Aleksandr Karavayev, but Romero saved comfortably to ensure a vital victory.