Europa: Ibrahimovic Fires Hat-Trick As United Thrash Saint Etienne At Old Trafford
Swedish superstar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic hat-trick gave Manchester United a 3-0 win against St Etienne in a Europa League round of 32 first leg tie at Old Trafford.
Ibrahimovic opened the scoring in unusual circumstances after 15 minutes when his free kick struck the St Etienne wall and deflected towards goal leaving goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier wrong-footed and stranded before crawling over the line.
He added an important second in the 74th minute as substitute Marcus Rashford squared from the left-hand side of the penalty area for an easy close-range finish.
The former Paris Saint-Germain striker scored his third of the night and 23rd of the season in all competitions for United from the penalty spot in the 88th-minute after being fouled by Kevin Theophile-Catherine. United could have had more but for a mixture of Ruffier’s excellent form in goal and United’s profligacy in front of it.
Ruffier made a superb double save on 25 minutes to deny United a second when he first parried a Mata volley before getting an arm to the rebound as the Spaniard followed in.
And on 30 minutes a winding Anthony Martial run culminated in a left-footed shot from the Frenchman being parried into the path of Ibrahimovic, who had the goal at his mercy, but he shot over from close range.
Paul Pogba headed against the crossbar from a Daley Blind free kick on 69 minutes, and with the game still at 1-0, Nolan Roux wasted the visitors’ best opportunity of the night when he failed to beat Sergio Romero from a good position in the area.
With the sides set to meet again in France next week Jose Mourinho will be happy United have done enough to ensure their progress to the next round of the Europa League.