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Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 to win Europa League

FT Man. Utd 2 Ajax 0: Silence, applause as Man Utd and Ajax honour Manchester victims

Stockholm, Sweden | AFP |  Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored as Manchester United defeated Ajax 2-0 in Wednesday’s Europa League final in Stockholm, a match played out against the emotional backdrop of Monday’s terror attack in Manchester.

France midfielder Pogba opening the scoring with a deflected 18th-minute strike before Mkhitaryan added a second just after half-time as United secured the only major trophy missing from their honours.

With an average of 22 years and 282 days, the Ajax side selected by coach Peter Bosz was the youngest to ever start a major European final.

 Mourinho bet the house on Europa League glory

Though he denied it, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gambled the club’s season on the outcome of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm.

Having missed out on Champions League qualification via the Premier League, he knew United must beat Ajax at the Friends Arena to secure a return to Europe’s elite competition.

 

Mourinho made his priorities clear in recent weeks by resting players for league fixtures, claiming United’s injury problems left him with no choice.

“It was not a gamble. It was a simple decision,” said Mourinho, who picked a team with an average age of 22 years and 284 days for Sunday’s season-ending 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace.

“When we lost players in a period of 17 matches in seven weeks, it was the impossible job. It was not a gamble, just a consequence of our situation.”

Mourinho won the UEFA Cup, as the Europa League was previously known, with Porto in 2003, but the two-time Champions League winner was publicly dismissive of the competition – until this time.

Starting line-ups:

Ajax (4-3-3)

Andre Onana; Joel Veltman, Davinson Sanchez, Matthijs De Ligt, Jairo Riedewald; Davy Klaassen (capt), Lasse Schone, Hakim Ziyech; Bertrand Traore, Kasper Dolberg, Amin Younes

Coach: Peter Bosz (NED)

Manchester United (4-3-3)

Sergio Romero; Antonio Valencia (capt), Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian; Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini; Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Coach: Jose Mourinho (POR)

Referee: Damir Skomina (SLO)

 

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Players from Ajax and Manchester United observed a minute of reflection prior to Wednesday’s Europa League final in memory of the victims of Monday’s terror attack in Manchester.

The two teams stood around the centre circle at Stockholm’s Friends Arena with their heads bowed during a brief period of silence, United’s players sporting black armbands, before fans of both sides burst into applause. Twenty-two people were killed and dozens injured after a suicide bomber targeted concert-goers leaving a performance by the American pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena.

“We tried our best to focus on the game. It is our job,” United manager Jose Mourinho told BT Sport before the match. “Not with the same happiness, the happiness that a great moment like this normally brings.”

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