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EUROPA LEAGUE: Ibrahimovic strike spares Man Utd blushes

Manchester United made hard work of overcoming a defensive minded Zorya outfit before securing a narrow 1-0 success to get their Europa League campaign back on track.

United dominated the first 45 minutes but because of their slow build up play Zorya had little difficulty in defending in depth to frustrate the home team who were playing against their 100th European opponents.

It was 18 minutes before the hosts had a shot on target by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and this was deflected wide. But from the resulting corner United came the closest to breaking the deadlock as Marcus Rashford crashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar.

The pedestrian play of United continued and it was only in the closing minutes of the half that they came close again. Jesse Lingard saw a header blocked then a scramble in the six yard box saw the ball squirm behind for a corner before a Juan Mata cross was inexplicably missed by a posse of home players.

Yet it was Zorya who could have taken an early lead following a quick break but Zeljko Ljubenovic shot over from a good position. Then at the beginning of the second half Marcos Rojo was found wanting but Ljubenovic could only manage an air-shot from ten yards.

Suddenly the Ukrainian's looked more adventurous and their quick breaks threatened to catch the home side out as they pushed forward to open their account. The Old Trafford crowd tried to raise the atmosphere but it was all rather half-hearted rather like their teams performance.

Zorya substitute Paulinho then forced a save from Utd keeper Sergio Romero before the biggest cheer of the night as Wayne Rooney came off the bench and made an immediate impact.

Ibrahimovic rose at the far post on 69m to head the Red Devils in front after Rooney's miscued effort had bounced kindly for the Swede.

Zorya continued to defend deeply as Utd looked more confident on the ball without really creating many chances and whilst the visitor's showed more attacking ambition in the closing minutes Jose Mourinho's outfit held out for the three points.

Full Time

Man Utd: 1 (Ibrahimovic 69)

Zorya Luhansk: 0

Ian Ferris
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Ian Ferris

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