Manchester United are the champions of the Europa League. That may seem bizarre to say, because they're Manchester United and this is a second-tier competition, but the Red Devils toppled Ajax, 2-0, in the final. And with that win comes a spot in next season's Champions League. It was a huge day in Sweden.
What did we take away from the Red Devils' win?
Jose Mourinho got it right
If Mourinho wants to boast, he has every right to. He prioritized the Europa League as the Red Devils' path to the Champions League and it paid off. Then in the final, his tactics completely unraveled Ajax and their dangerous attack. Mourinho was golden when it came to this Europa League.
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Paul Pogba is still running the game
Say what you want about his price tag, but Pogba has been the man who keeps Manchester United's midfield functioning all season. And yes, his goal in this final was a product of a deflection, but he still scored the goal. He made tackles. He sparked the team in transition. He picked up second balls. He did everything.
Take your Pogba slander elsewhere.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan came through
Mkhitaryan was an expensive summer buy who had proven himself in the Bundesliga and Champions League with Borussia Dortmund (not to mention Shakhtar Donetsk before). But he struggled in the fall to crack Jose Mourinho's team and it was looking like his move may prove to be a disaster. But Mkhitaryan kept working, earned Mourinho's trust and is looking increasingly more valuable to the Red Devils. A goal in this final was a nice cap to what started as a trying season for Mkhitaryan, but got better by the month.
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Where was Kasper Dolberg?
The Ajax star striker has been incredible this season, but he was MIA against Manchester United. He couldn't get touches and was wasteful when he did. The 19-year-old is still a tremendous talent and bound for great things, but Ajax needed him to be a gamebreaker in this match to give them a chance and he was nowhere to be found.
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Daley Blind continues to get the job done
Eric Bailly was suspended, while injuries ravaged the Manchester United defense. The back line should have been a mess for Manchester United, but it wasn't. That the midfield strangled Ajax and eased the pressure on the defense helped, but the back line still had to do work and it was Blind who really shined. Blind made several timely tackles, including a last-second lunge to poke the ball away from Adama Traore at the last moment.
Blind may not have a defined position, and he may lack athleticism, but having a utility man like him who can get the job done at several positions is extremely valuable. And that he shined in this match, against the Ajax club that he got his start with, just made the day that much sweeter.
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It's too bad Zlatan Ibrahimovic couldn't play
Ibrahimovic suffered a torn ACL in the semifinal and while he was on hand for the match, it's a shame he couldn't play. The Swede, playing in Stockholm against the Ajax team where he became a star? That would have been perfect.
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Happy for Manchester
Manchester has been going through an awful couple days after the attack at the Ariana Grande concert. A soccer match, a win, a trophy, whatever came from these two hours aren't going to change the pain and grief of those affected, but for some, they got a distraction and a reason to be cheer. Soccer delivered something, even if it was small, to some.