- Title: Professional United move into Europa last-32
- Date: 8th December 2016
- Summary: ODESSA, UKRAINE (DECEMBER 8, 2016) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER, JOSE MOURINHO, SAYING: "The reality is that nobody was better than us (in recent games). We have so many disappointing results but nobody was better than us and that in the players' brains works. We were always better than our opponents, so that plays a part."
- Embargoed: 23rd December 2016 20:44
- Keywords: Manchester United Zorya Luhansk Europa League Jose Mourinho soccer Mkhitaryan
- Location: ODESSA, UKRAINE
- City: ODESSA, UKRAINE
- Country: Ukraine
- Reuters ID: LVA0065C0X0E7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Manchester United are warming to the task in the Europa League as they booked a spot in the last 32 with a 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk on a freezing night in Ukraine on Thursday (December 8).
Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who made a mockery of his two-month exile from the starting lineup with a superb individual effort, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured an easy win that banished memories of their earlier group stage struggles.
The victory confirmed United in second place in Group A behind Turkish side Fenerbahce who ended Feyenoord's qualification hopes with a 1-0 away win over the Dutch side.
United, who could now see the competition as their best route into the Champions League with their Premier League form continuing to disappoint, needed only a draw to progress but never looked in danger of suffering an upset.
Mkhitaryan, who joined United for 25 million pounds ($31.47 million) from Borussia Dortmund in the close season, may finally have won over manager Jose Mourinho after he danced through the heart of the defence to slot home his first goal for the club early in the second half.
"He was very determined to fight against his difficult adaptation and he is doing that in the best way. He worked really hard physically, tactically, the talent we know that is there, the talent is what we bought and we knew what we were buying," said Mourinho after the game.
"The goal means a little bit more of happiness for him so I am very pleased."
The Armenian, a constant thorn in Zorya's side, looks to have regained the confidence that helped him score 23 goals for Dortmund in all competitions last season.
United dominated throughout the game and Mourinho was quick to point out that his players had played similarly well during the season, but not got the results their performances deserved.
The English giants have struggled in the Premier League this season, finding themselves in sixth place, six points behind Sunday's (December 11) opponents Tottenham Hotspur in fifth and a full 13 points behind league leaders Chelsea.
Mourinho's men have led many times this season but have failed to see out the victory, drawing six of their last eight Premier League games. However, Mourinho said the confidence of his team never wavered as they knew they were outplaying teams.
"The reality is that nobody was better than us," said the Portuguese when asked about recent form.
"We have so many disappointing results but nobody was better than us and that in the players' brains works. We were always better than our opponents, so that plays a part."
United fans will be hoping this professional away performance in Ukraine sparks their league form over the Christmas period, starting with their game against Spurs at Old Trafford on Sunday.
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