Eye Football


Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 to win first Europa League title

Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 to win first Europa League title

Manchester United won the Europa League after defeating Ajax 2-0

Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave Manchester United a well-deserved 2-0 win over a young Ajax team to lift the UEFA Europa League title for the first time in the club's history.

Going into the final, the Red Devils were without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rojo through injury and Eric Bailly who was suspended after being sent off in the semi-finals against Celta Vigo. 

Ajax fielded the youngest team in a European final history, with the starting line-up having an average age of just 22 years and 282 days. 

It was a typical Jose Mourinho performance as he set out his United side in an extremely organized and calculative fashion. United sat back for the majority of the game and allowed Ajax to take control of possession. However, Ajax were unable to penetrate the United defence as the young players were crowded out every time they moved into the final third of the pitch.  

Marouane Fellaini was the main focal point of United's attack as the Belgian put in an excellent performance, dominating the aerial battles, most notably against Ajax defender Davidson Sánchez. Fellaini's link up play was key to United's offense and that lead to the opening goal.

Picking up a long ball in the final third, Fellaini played in Paul Pogba who went past one defender before seeing his low shot deflect off the legs of Sánchez and into the net to put United 1-0 up. Mourinho however, was reserved in his reaction and did not celebrate the goal. 

The rest of the first half largely remained the same as Ajax's poor passing in the final third coupled with United's disciplined defence stopped the youngsters from threatening Sergio Romero's goal. 

Manchester United started the second half strongly and were 2-0 up just three minutes after the restart to put themselves in pole position to win. Chris Smalling headed down a corner kick to Mkhitaryan and the Armenian forward, with his back towards goal, scored with a fantastic improvised overhead flick. 

From then on, United sat back and restricted Ajax to long shots. Substitute Lingard even had a chance to put the game beyond doubt as he burst through on goal in a swift counter-attack, but the England forward was shut down before he could get his shot away.  

The referee signaled the end of the match to send United fans into delirium after what has been a difficult week for the city of Manchester following the terror attacks just a day ago.  

An elated Pogba spoke after the match in an interview on BT Sports: "We did it and we're very proud, very proud. Nobody can talk. They say we have a bad season but I mean, the prize is here." 

By winning the Europa League, Manchester United have won the only trophy that eluded them before the match, and perhaps more importantly for Mourinho, have also qualified for next season's edition of the UEFA Champions League.