Mkhi­taryan shines as United ad­vance

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS:

Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan scored his first Manch­ester United goal to set up a 2-0 win over Zo­rya Luhansk in Ukraine on Thurs­day and take Jose Mour­inho’s side into the last 32 of the Europa League. United re­quired only a point to se­cure progress from Group A but Mkhi­taryan’s 48th-minute strike and a late Zla­tan Ibrahimovic goal sep­a­rated the sides and took the Premier League club through in sec­ond place be­hind Fener­bahce, who won 10 at Feyeno­ord thanks to a Moussa Sow effort.

The game went ahead de­spite con­cerns about the state of the icy, rock-hard pitch at the Chornomorets Sta­dium in Odessa, al­most 1,000 kilo­me­ters away from Luhansk in the con­flict-torn east of the coun­try. Af­ter a goal­less first half, United broke the dead­lock three min­utes into the sec­ond half as the Ar­me­nian Mkhi­taryan burst for­ward from mid­field through the mid­dle of the Zo­rya de­fense be­fore fin­ish­ing past goal­keeper Igor Levchenko. They wrapped up the vic­tory two min­utes from the end as a fine one-touch pass­ing move ended with Paul Pogba send­ing Ibrahimovic away, the Swede run­ning through and fin­ish­ing coolly.

“I was wait­ing a long time for this goal. My next goal has to be at Old Traf­ford be­cause I want to score at home,” Mkhi­taryan, who pre­vi­ously played in Ukraine for Shakhtar Donetsk, told BT Sport. “The first half was a lit­tle bit dif­fi­cult be­cause we couldn’t find the last pass but in the sec­ond half we cre­ated some space for the wingers and the strik­ers. The im­por­tant thing was to win to­day and go through.” Mour­inho praised the play­maker, who en­dured a dif­fi­cult start to his United ca­reer but is now start­ing to show his worth. “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,” Mour­inho said.

Southamp­ton out

United will join Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, who drop out of the Cham­pi­ons League, in the last 32, but there was bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment for fel­low Premier League club Southamp­ton. Claude Puel’s men knew a goal­less draw or a win at home to Hapoel Beer-Sheva would see them ad­vance from Group K but in­stead drew 1-1 with the Is­raelis and were elim­i­nated. The vis­i­tors went in front in the 79th minute, Yu­val Shab­tai pounc­ing on a poor pass by Oriol Romeu and set­ting up Maor Buza­glo to fire home. Vir­gil van Dijk equalised with a de­flected shot in stop­page time but they could not get a win­ner and Hapoel go through in­stead.

A bril­liant late chip by Manuel Trigueros gave Villarreal a nervy 2-1 win over Steaua Bucharest that took the Span­ish club into the last 32 from Group L be­hind the Turk­ish side Os­man­lispor. Fel­low Spa­niards Celta Vigo won 2-0 at Panathi­naikos and qual­ify from Group G, while Fiorentina are through as win­ners of Group J af­ter a 2-1 win over Qarabag in Azer­bai­jan se­cured by a 76th-minute goal from 19-year-old Fed­erico Chiesa, son of exI­taly striker En­rico, who was then sent off shortly af­ter. PAOK of Greece are also into next week’s draw for the first knock­out round thanks to a 2-0 win against Slo­van Liberec, while Gent joined Shakhtar Donetsk in ad­vanc­ing from Group H. — AFP

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