Manchester United cruised into the last-16 of the Europa League tonight, with Odion Ighalo registering his first goal for the club in a comfortable 5-0 win over Club Brugge.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co still had work to do at Old Trafford this evening after being held to a 1-1 draw out in Belgium last week.
Yet the second leg proved a much simpler night’s work for the Red Devils, who were gifted an early advantage when Brugge defender Simon Deli decided to pull off a save in the area that goalkeeper Simon Mignolet would have been proud of.
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After an unnecessarily long-winded VAR check, referee Serdar Gozubuyuk pointed the spot and gave Deli his marching orders after 27 minutes.
Bruno Fernandes then stepped up and cooly tucked the ball past Mignolet from 12 yards to all but end Brugge’s hopes of progressing to the next round.
It wasn’t long until Ighalo killed the tie on his full debut for United, capping a brilliant piece of play involving fellow new man Fernandes and Juan Mata seven minutes later.
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The £67m midfielder twisted and turned on the edge of the area and then looped a terrific pass straight to the feet of Mata, who pulled the ball across goal for Ighalo to tap home.
Eyebrows were raised when Solskjaer opted to bring the former Watford striker back to England last month amid Marcus Rashford’s lengthy spell on the sidelines.
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But after getting off the mark tonight, don’t bet against Ighalo pushing on and rediscovering the kind of form that saw him bag 36 Premier League goals for the Hornets before leaving for China in 2017.
Scott McTominay put the hosts even further out of sight four minutes before half-time, virtually passing the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the area – which symbolised the ease at which United strolled to victory.
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With progression to the last-16 in the bag, Solskjaer’s men took their foot off the gas after the interval and were not exactly made to pay.
Brugge, well beaten after 33 minutes tonight, chased shadows in the second half and shipped in two more when Fred converted twice late on.
- Europa League
- Manchester United FC
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