In leading 1-0 in the first half in the Europa league final match against Dutch giants Ajax, the general feeling in the air was how United needed at least a goal to make their sojourn to the title safer.
Given Ajax’s use of the ball and United’s decision to let go of the possession, focusing on cutting the callow squad open with counterattacks, a second goal was going to be crucial for such tactic to work and at the same time keep them safe from any form of surprises something they have all too well undergone this season and almost lost out to Celta Vigo in the semi final except for John Guidetti’s incompetence.
Three minutes into the second half, United won a corner kick, Rashford crossed and the ball landed on Chris Smalling’s head onto Mkhitaryan who smartly flicked the ball with a semi overhead kick over the head of Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana into the resting wall of the net.
The Red Devils were two nil up and that was when the trophy was won. That goal made it the sixth the Armenian has scored away from Old Trafford in the course of United’s Europa League campaign adding to the list of crucial goals he scored in the EPL games and the domestic cup.
This is a far cry away from the then seemingly bleak future at the Theatre of Dreams when the Armenian struggled for form in the first few months of the campaign. His listless performance against rivals Man City raised more doubts.
After the troubling opening weeks though, the Armenian came to make use of subsequent opportunities thrown at him. And before long the old Trafford faithful came to know him as the man for crucial goals.
And the one in last Wednesday’sfinal did provide a perfect summary and perfect end to a respectable debut season.