Manchester United won the Europa League for the first time in their history thanks to a 2-0 victory over Ajax in the final in Stockholm.
Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured the trophy and a route back into the Champions League group stage for next season, while bringing some joy to fans in what has been a deeply difficult week for the English city.
The match was overshadowed by Monday’s terror attack at the Manchester Arena, which killed 22 people, and a minute’s silence was observed before kick-off in front of a boisterous but respectful crowd at Friends Arena.
Manager Jose Mourinho – who last won this trophy with Porto in 2003 – spoke before the game of how United players were struggling to put the tragedy at home out of their minds, but they were the better side in the opening exchanges and were good value for the lead given to them through Pogba’s deflected shot.
Ajax, in their first European final since losing to Juventus in the Champions League in 1996, lacked the attacking precision that saw them score five goals across two legs against both Schalke and Lyon and they were 2-0 down shortly after the interval as Mkhitaryan netted his sixth goal in the competition this season.
United were largely on the defensive in the final half-hour but their lead was rarely under threat, as they became the fifth team to win the Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup and returned to Europe’s top table in style.
Wednesday’s encounter was preceded by a minute’s silence that turned into rousing applause in recognition of the victims of Monday’s terror attack in Manchester, which claimed the lives of 22 people…