Ibrahimovic hat-trick puts United in control

Zlatan Ibrahimovic underlined his worth to Manchester United with all three goals in a 3-0 win over Saint-Etienne in the Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday.

  • Manchester United 3 Saint-Etienne 0
  • Ibrahimovic free-kick breaks deadlock
  • Swede taps in second after the break
  • Pogba header hits the crossbar
  • Ibrahimovic gets hat-trick from the spot

Match Summary

The veteran striker scored a fortuitous opener on 15 minutes with a deflected free-kick and added a second after 75 minutes courtesy of a simple tap-in, before capping off a fine night from the penalty post two minutes from time.

Jose Mourinho's side will fancy their chances of finishing the job in the second leg of their last-32 tie at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard next week.

Full Report

United looked a bit tentative in the opening stages and a poor backpass from Eric Bailly almost let in Romain Hamouma on three minutes, but Daley Blind was on hand to clear the danger after Sergio Romero had followed the attacker and went to ground as he attempted to block a shot.

The hosts had the ball in the back of the net six minutes later when Marouane Fellaini drilled his shot into the bottom corner, but the goal was ruled out as Juan Mata was offside when he played in the Belgian.

Stephane Ruffier had to be alert moments later to keep out Anthony Martial's firm strike after the Frenchman had cut inside from the left, but there was nothing he could do to prevent the opener on the quarter-hour mark.

The Red Devils won a free-kick just outside the area and Ibrahimovic's low effort took a deflection off Vincent Pajot in the wall to totally wrong-footed the keeper and creep over the line.

Ruffier then pulled off a great double save to deny Mata on 25 minutes, first on the volley from Pogba's delightful aerial pass before turning the Spaniard's rebound around the left post.

Hamouma was causing problems for Bailly down the left flank and a strong run from the Frenchman on the half-hour mark saw him square the ball to Henri Saivet, who took one touch before firing narrowly wide of the left post from 18 yards out.

Martial went close at the other end soon afterwards with another trademark run from the left and forcing a save out of Ruffier with his boot, with Ibrahimovic directing the rebound onto the roof of the net.

The chances continued to come as Christophe Galtier's men enjoyed a good spell, with Saivet hitting a first-time shot well wide of the left post from outside the box from Hamouma's cushioned header, before Pajot tried his luck from distance on the right but failed to test Romero and Pogba blasted an effort wide from 22 yards out on the left.

Romero was called into action five minutes before half-time as he pounced on Kevin Monnet-Paquet's shot, which took a double deflection off Chris Smalling, while Hamouma blazed over from an acute angle on the left after latching onto a ball over the top from Monnet-Paquet.

The visitors finished the half strongly, with Jordan Veretout flashing an effort just wide of the far post from distance on the right after Fellaini gave the ball away outside his own area.

United correctly had a second goal ruled out for offside four minutes into the second half when Ibrahimovic headed home Mata's cross from the right.

Ruffier again made two saves in quick succession moments later to deny first Martial from close range after another surging run from the left, before tipping Ibrahimovic's deflected header over the bar on the follow-up.

Pogba was inches away from doubling the hosts' lead on 63 minutes with a curling left-footed effort from 20 yards out that narrowly missed to the left of the goal, and he went even closer moments later with a header from Blind's free-kick that came back off the bar.

Les Verts nearly got themselves back in the contest on 73 minutes as two substitutes combined, with Ole Selnaes playing Nolan Roux on the right and he lifted the ball over the advancing Romero but also over the bar.

However, United extended their lead moments later when Marcus Rashford raced into the area on the left before crossing into the middle, where Ruffier got a glove onto the ball but only succeeded in parrying it straight to Ibrahimovic, who had a simple tap-in at the back post.

Jesse Lingard threatened to make it 3-0 on 77 minutes with a first-time shot from the edge of the box that went the wrong side of the right post from Rashford's pass.

Ibrahimovic completed his three-goal haul two minutes from time after earning a penalty when Kevin Theophile-Catherine clattered into him from behind, and the Swedish ace stuck his spot-kick into the bottom-left corner of the net to seal the win.