ODESSA, Ukraine, Sporting Alert – Manchester United beat bottom side Zorya 2-0 in their Europa League Group A clash to qualify for the round of 32.
The English Premier League side went into the game needing to avoid defeat to progress but confidently secured its passage into the knockout round with second half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“We played well tonight. One thing is to play badly and get bad results, which kills confidence and is more difficult to cope with,” United manager Jose Mourinho said.
“When you play well, you have to hope the results will come. The reality is nobody was better than us [in recent weeks], even though we had disappointing results. And in the players’ brains, that plays a part.”
Goalkeeper Sergio Romero, starting ahead of David de Gea, who was rested, made two key saves in the first and second half to help the travellers secured the win.
Mkhitaryan bagged his first goal for Manchester United in 11 appearances when he finished off a delightful solo run in the 48th minute.
The Armenian picked up a ball halfway on the pitch and dribbled his way into the home side’s box before coolly finishing past Igor Levchenko.
“It was a strong mentality,” Mourinho said about Mkhitaryan’s attitude. “He was determined to fight against his difficult adaptation.
“He worked hard physically and tactically – the talent was there, we knew that when we bought him.
“Now he’s playing good – in the Premier League, Europa League and EFL Cup, and now the goal means a little more happiness for him, so I’m very pleased.”
Ibrahimovic made it 2-0 in the 88th minute when the Swedish striker finished off a through pass from Paul Pogba for his second successive goal against Zorya after scoring the winner in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Matchday Two.
The big striker has now scored 13 goals in all competition for Manchester United and seven in his last six outings.
Mkhitaryan has now started three games in a row and looks like a safe bet to take his place in the starting lineup against Tottenham this weekend.
Playmaker Juan Mata was substitute after the hour mark and was seen talking to a team physio.
It is still unclear if the Spaniard picked up a knock or he was just discussing recovery with the medical official.
The Red Devils ended the first half with 76 percent ball possession and 71% overall.
Meanwhile, the win means Manchester United progressed behind Fenerbahce in Group A with 12 points.
Fenerbahce beat Feyenoord 1-0 to finish with 13 points.
The game saw centre-back Eric Bailly making a surprised return to the starting lineup to play alongside Marcos Rojo in the heart of the defense.