Manchester United needed two second-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to secure a win over Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League, though Feyenoord’s loss to Fenerbahce in the other match meant it almost didn’t matter. That being said, United will take some pride from advancing to the Europa League knockout stages, finishing second in the group, though position doesn’t matter because United should be able to beat any other side in the competition anyways. This win represented United’s first European away victory since November 2013, when David Moyes’ side thrashed Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 in the Champions League, so while playing in Ukraine doesn’t show the most calibre, Mourinho’s men are showing the signs of progress.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who finally grabbed his first goal for Manchester United, spoke to BT Sport, expressing his delight that United was able to get the job done in the second half despite struggling to create chances for much of the first. While delighted to score his first goal for Manchester United, Mkhitaryan believes his real goal is to score his first goal at the Theatre of Dreams. Mkhitaryan highlighted Wayne Rooney’s creation of space for him to score the goal, and from then on he states that the side looked much better.
“I was waiting a long time for this goal. But my next goal has to be at Old Trafford because I want to score at home, it’s another pleasure to score at Old Trafford, so I will try my best to do that.
“In the first half it was a little bit difficult because we couldn’t find the last pass but in the second half, we made some space for the wingers and for the strikers that we’ve done. Wayne created space for me and I’ve scored the goal, then also the goal of Ibra, we had a lot of space up front so the most important thing is we won today and we are going through.
“In the first half we were playing not so good, so we couldn’t find the right space, we couldn’t understand each other and we weren’t used to playing this kind of pitch. But the second-half it was the opposite, we played very well, we did some mistakes but without mistakes, there is no football, to try and improve ourselves and to make the result.”
Mkhitaryan will be incredibly important to United’s hopes of winning at Old Trafford against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Failure to perform in the match could see Europa League football gain an even higher priority, as United will likely fall too far behind to make Top 4 with a loss against Spurs. United has entered a period in which they need to win as many matches as possible to avoid failing to qualify for the Champions League for two years in succession, and they have the capability to do so, but it is not time to ensure that the right measures are taken to get United where they belong. If Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic can replicate their goal-scoring form from today’s match, United stands a good chance on Sunday too.