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UNITED DOWN AJAX TO LIFT FIRST EUROPA CUP; JOSE’S MEN THROUGH TO CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were the heroes as Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 to win the Europa League for the first time in their history and book their place in next season’s Champions League.

Pogba fired home a deflected effort from distance in the 18th minute in Stockholm, with Mkhitaryan adding another from close range after the restart, as Jose Mourinho landed his second major trophy in his maiden season at Old Trafford after beating Southampton earlier in the season to lift the Capital One Cup

United could have been ahead after only 30 seconds on the clock, with Pogba’s strike from the edge of the box sailing just wide of the target.

Ajax’s first effort at goal came after 15 minutes, with Bertrand Traore finding space in the box for a shot, only to see his attempt saved at the near post by Sergio Romero.

But it was United who moved into the lead three minutes later through Pogba, who picked up the ball from Marouane Fellaini on the edge of the area, before seeing his strike deflect off Davinson Sanchez and fly past the helpless Andre Onana.

And it could have been two six minutes later when United’s captain for the night Antonio Valencia raced past his man and into the box, but his effort at goal was stopped at the near post by Onana.

Ajax weathered the storm and began to see the majority of the ball as the first half wore on but were unable to find a way past United’s defence.

It was Mourinho’s team, though, that came out the stronger after the break and they managed to double their lead just three minutes into the second half, with Mkhitaryan hooking home from just a few yards out following Chris Smalling’s knock-down from a corner.

United looked well in control from that point and had a chance to kill off the game after 65 minutes when Pogba’s cross found Fellaini, but the Belgium international could only head straight at Onana.

Ajax attempted to find a way back into the game as the clock ticked down but United never really looked threatened and ultimately proved comfortable Europa League victors, meaning they will join a possible four other English teams in next season’s Champions League.

 

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