Manchester United comfortably won the Europa League for the first time last night, showing too much experience and quality to overcome a young Ajax side at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.
The Reds were heavy pre-match favourites, and their quality showed in the early stages, with the front three of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata working in tandem.
Their early pressure paid off after 18 minutes when Paul Pogba’s left-footed strike from just outside the box took a major deflection to wrong-foot Andre Onana.
Captain Antonio Valencia also went close, though United then ceded possession to their Dutch opponents; Jose Mourinho’s team were happy to soak up the pressure, with Sergio Romero rarely tested apart from the ever-impressive Bertrand Traore – a Chelsea loanee – forcing the Argentine into a save.
Soon after the break, Mkhitaryan scored with an acrobatic finish from close range to ease his side’s nerves. They then sat deep and restricted Ajax from creating much in dangerous areas, with substitute Jesse Lingard passing up an excellent opportunity on the counter-attack.
On the final whistle, there was an outpouring of emotion, particularly from Mourinho who had been under intense pressure to deliver his club into next season’s Champions League. The result means that the Portuguese has won two major trophies in his first campaign, which can now be considered a success.