MANCHESTER- Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick dampened the Pogba brothers’ face-off in United’s 3-0 home victory against Saint-Etienne.
Meeting for the first time since 1977, Manchester United hosted French outfit Saint-Etienne in the Europa League Round of 32.
United made two changes from their weekend win against Watford with Romero and Fellaini coming in for De Gea and Mkhitaryan. Whilst Saint-Etienne’s team was unchanged from their win on the weekend.
Saint-Etienne started the game off strong and were dominating the midfield battle and showing some pace down the wings.
In the 15th minute United broke the deadlock after Ibrahimovic’s free kick deflected off Pajot and slowly rolled into the net to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead.
After the goal, Saint-Etienne continued to show promising signs. The French side had many chances mostly coming from Hamouma and Saivet, but were unlucky not to level things up at the break.
Jesse Lingard replaced Marouane Fellaini at halftime to give United a bit more pace in the midfield as they were bossed around in the first half.
United started the second half off very strong. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled offside in the early minutes of the second half and Martial was showing off his talent on the left wing beating Malcuit time after time.
Another flurry of United chances came when Valencia’s shot deflected just wide of the net and Pogba had two great chances seeing his curling effort miss the net by inches and then hit the crossbar with a powerful header.
Ole Selnaes nearly made an instant impact when his sweet pass found the other substitute Nolan Roux, who’s chip went just over the crossbar.
Minutes after Roux’s chance, United made it 2-0 after some brilliant wing play from Marcus Rashford found none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was there to tap the ball into the empty net.
It wasn’t the night that Florentin Pogba would be hoping for, down two goals then being subbed off with suspected cramp in the late stages of the match.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the cherry on top with his third goal coming in the last few minutes of the game after Theophile-Catherine took him down in the box. Zlatan converted the penalty into the bottom left corner to make it 3-0.
Paul Pogba nearly made it 4-0 with the last kick of the game when his free kick drifted just wide of the top corner.
United will go to France firmly in the driving seat ahead of next week’s clash.
Second Leg: Wednesday, February 22. Kick off at 12:00pm EST.