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Mkhitaryan scores as Manchester United reach Europa round of 16

Manchester United wrapped up a commanding 4-0 aggregate Europa League victory over St Etienne, winning 1-0 in the away leg thanks to an early Henrikh…

Manchester United wrapped up a commanding 4-0 aggregate Europa League victory over St Etienne, winning 1-0 in the away leg thanks to an early Henrikh Mkhitaryan goal and easing into the round of 16.

After a scrappy start, United scored the goal that put the tie beyond any doubt after 16 minutes as the home side gave Juan Mata far too much time and space down the left.

Mata curled an inviting ball into the penalty area where Mkhitaryan had ghosted into space to steer a neat finish inside the far post.

Mkhitaryan limped off soon afterwards with what appeared to be a hamstring problem, Marcus Rashford replacing him as manager Jose Mourinho looked ahead to Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley.

Shortly before the change, United almost had a second when confusion in the home defence saw the ball ricochet off Vincent Pajot, forcing goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier to make a scrambling low save.

But the home side refused to lie down and almost pulled a goal back soon after the half-hour mark as Paul Pogba made a good block from Jordan Veretout’s effort.

Five minutes before the break, Zlatan Ibrahimovic — whose first-leg hat trick had put United in command of the tie — linked up with Marcus Rashford and cut inside only to fire a fierce shot over the bar from just outside the box.

Veretout was involved again as St Etienne conjured a brief moment of concern for the visitors as his cross was headed towards goal by captain Loic Perrin, but United keeper Sergio Romero held on comfortably.

Rashford burst into the St Etienne area five minutes after the break but pushed the ball just too far in front of him and the danger was snuffed out before the action switched to the other end and Henri Saivet saw his miscued volley blocked on the edge of the area.

With the hour approaching, Marouane Fellaini fired into the side netting for United with the unmarked Ibrahimovic waiting in vain in the middle before Eric Bailly’s booking for a clumsy tackle on Romain Hamouma ruled him out of United’s next Europa League match.

Bastian Schweinsteiger entered the fray for United as Mourinho opted to give Michael Carrick some rest before United were reduced to 10 men as Bailly picked up his second yellow card for a second late challenge on Hamouma.

The 10-man visitors again came close with 20 minutes remaining as Ibrahimovic was thwarted by a fine interception from Florentin Pogba inside the area as the game began to drift towards its conclusion.

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