Glory Days: The final piece of the puzzle
On 24 May 2017, Manchester United completed the set in terms of major honours, by beating Ajax 2-0 to win the Europa League final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
After finishing fifth in the 2015/16 Premier League season, along with winning the FA Cup, United gained automatic qualification into the Europa League group stage for the 2016/17 campaign. The aim: to get back in the Champions League, and the Reds knew that the only way to do that, aside from finishing in the top four domestically, was to lift the trophy in May.
A group containing Feyenoord, Zorya Luhansk and Fenerbahçe was negotiated with four wins from our six matches, however it was not enough to top the group, with Mourinho's men finishing one point behind the table-topping Turkish outfit.
Highlights: 2017 Europa League finalVideo
At the start of the knockout stages, Zlatan Ibrahmiovic's hat-trick helped United cruise past Saint-Etienne with a 4-0 aggregate scoreline, before a nervy encounter against Rostov was settled by Juan Mata's goal at Old Trafford which sent us through 2-1 on aggregate.
That scoreline was replicated in the quarter-final and semi-final, as first we edged past Anderlecht thanks to a Marcus Rashford winner in extra-time – in a game which saw Ibrahimovic sustain a season-ending injury. Against Celta Vigo, Marouane Fellaini's header on home turf, following a 1-0 win in Spain, would prove enough to book our place in the showpiece event in Stockholm.
With United and Anderlecht tied at 1-1 on the night, and 2-2 on aggregrate, and the match heading towards the insufferable tension of penalties, up stepped Marcus Rashford. The teenager latched onto Marouane Fellaini’s knockdown and turned brilliantly, before firing beyond Ruben Martinez in the Belgians’ goal.
It was the Academy graduate’s first strike in Europe since his memorable debut against Midtjylland 14 months earlier – and one of his most decisive contributions for the Reds yet.
Stockholm scenes Gallery
One year on, our gallery retells the story of an emotional evening when United won the Europa League for the first time.
Having returned to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016, Paul Pogba showed his class when it really mattered, as his deflected shot from 20 yards got United off the mark in the final. The Frenchman ensured that the Reds dominated midfield early on and once Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled our lead after the interval, we were in total control of the contest.
Taking place just two days after the Manchester Arena bombing, the Stockholm final against Peter Bosz’s Ajax was an emotional occasion. On the pitch, though, Jose Mourinho’s side put in a calm and consummate performance. The Reds may have ceded possession to the technically excellent Amsterdam club for much of the game, but Ajax struggled to create chances and goals in either half from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ensured we completed our set of European trophies.