AC Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Aggregate: 1-2)
Manchester United qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League after a dogged display saw them notch up a hard-fought 1-0 win at the San Siro against AC Milan. The English club ended up going through 2-1 on aggregate.
Paul Pogba was the hero for the Red Devils as he returned from injury. The World Cup winner had an immediate impact on the game as he scored after coming on as a substitute at half time.
This was Pogba’s first appearance since 6th February when he was out due to a muscle strain in his thigh. The Frenchman just turned 28 a few days back and his performance cannot be praised enough.
He looked terrific on the left side for Manchester United and combined well with Luke Shaw who had another stellar outing. The consistent performances earned the left-back an England call-up once again and Solskjaer will be hoping his first-choice defender stays free of injuries.
Pogba’s goal came inside 3 minutes after the second half kicked off as AC Milan failed to clear their lines from a corner that saw some havoc in the 6-yard area.
A deflection fell kindly to La Pioche who made no mistake as he calmly curled the ball into the top netting to put United in the driver’s seat and cancel out AC Milan’s away goal they had after the first leg last minute equaliser in Manchester.
AC Milan brought on Zlatan Ibrahimovic who almost found the equaliser after Hakan Calhanoglu’s cross was headed by the 39-year-old Swedish striker but only to be denied by a brilliant reflex save from Manchester United’s goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
The Red Devils hung on after a stellar defensive showing. Victor Lindelof received the Man of the Match award and there was no surprise as he alongside Maguire, ended up diverting all of the Rossoneri’s attacking threats authoritatively.
Solskjaer delighted with the win in Italy
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted with victory over AC Milan and believes there is plenty more to come from goal scorer Paul Pogba after he fired Manchester United into the Europa League quarterfinals in their quest for silverware this season.
United were the slight underdogs coming into the 2nd leg of the Europa League Round of 16 tie because they drew their home game and conceded an away goal. This made things hard for the Red Devils because it meant that they had to score to go through.
They did just that and although it was not a pretty win, they will take it. United have now kept 6 clean sheets in 7 games in all competitions and are looking to push on as they turn their attention to Leicester City in the FA Cup quarterfinals.
“When you win a game of football away from home in a stadium like this [San Siro] against a team like this, you’re very happy,” Solskjaer said.
“We started really well I felt. First 15-20 minutes I thought we looked like a very good team.
“Then there was a spell from halfway through the first half to half-time that we rushed things, missed the ball, lost the ball too often, made it a long game.
“I just had to reiterate a couple of things and second half I felt we were much, much better.”
“Paul looked like he’d been out for six weeks, yeah, for sure,” the United boss said.
“He’s been working really hard but when you play football it’s different and you can see that he needs… he couldn’t play more than 45 and he’ll get better and better.
“That’s a big, big boost for us rest of the season because the boys have done fantastic without him but we know Paul’s qualities.
“Marcus had a little twinge that we couldn’t take a risk with him but hopefully he won’t be too bad.”
On being asked about Dean Henderson’s performance and the match-winning save from Zlatan Ibrahmovic’s header, Solskjaer said, “”It’s a save he should have made last week! Very similar… No, very pleased for him of course. Great save. The team is always giving us everything, you know.
“It started from the front with the pressing, the front four really high energy pressing and of course the back-six plus the keeper we know what they can do.
“Very happy with our defensive foundation. That gives you the platform to go and win games.”
Manchester United travel to Leicester to face the Foxes in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup on Sunday, 21st March.