UEL: Manchester United 3-0 Saint Etienne


Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring the 17th hat-trick of his career

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick as Manchester United beat St Etienne 3-0 to take control of their Europa League last-32 tie.


Jose Mourinho named a strong team, making two changes from their victory over Watford as Paul Pogba lined up against older brother Florentin. The St Etienne left-back was part of an unchanged XI for Christophe Galtier and the French side almost took the lead inside three minutes.

Eric Bailly's blind backpass presented the opportunity to Romain Hamouma but with Sergio Romero out of position the forward failed to find a team-mate. United took the lead thanks to a huge slice of fortune when Ibrahimovic's free-kick, awarded for a questionable foul on the Swede, clipped Vincent Pajot in the wall and wrong-footed Stephane Ruffier.

In an open first half the two sides then traded chances as Ruffier, impressive in goal for the visitors, made smart stops from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial. But St Etienne forced the majority of opportunities as half-time approached, ending the half with 11 shots on goal, the most by an opponent at Old Trafford since Athletic Bilbao had 13 in March 2013.

They were denied a penalty when Daley Blind tangled with Jorginho and went close through the lively Hamouma and Newcastle loanee Henri Saivet. Despite struggling to influence proceedings after the break, they had a fantastic chance to equalise before Ibrahimovic's second.

Ole Selnaes picked out fellow substitute Nolan Roux but the forward could only lift his effort over the bar with Romero to beat. United swiftly took advantage when Ibrahimovic tapped home from close range after fine work by Marcus Rashford.

And the former Paris Saint-Germain forward, who also saw a header correctly ruled out for offside, sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot with two minutes to play. He went to ground under Theophile-Catherine's soft challenge and picked himself up to send Ruffier the wrong way from 12 yards.

It capped an impressive second half by the hosts, who also hit the woodwork through Pogba, setting them up for the second leg in St Etienne next week.


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