Wayne Rooney lifting the trophy in 2017

Europa League: Our story so far

Thursday 08 April 2021 11:45

Manchester United have plenty of history in the Europa League across its various guises, dating back over 57 eventful years of continental action.

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men take on Granada in the Thursday's quarter-final first leg, it will be the Reds' 71st match in the second-most prestigious club competition on the continent.

The lads are looking to repeat our feat from 2017, when we won the trophy and thereby completed the set of European baubles.

Ahead of our encounter at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes, we decided to round up our history in the Europa League to date…

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In his pre-match interview, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it's always in our DNA to try to score.


September 1964 was when the Reds first competed in the tournament, a time when it was known as the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – though it had begun life in 1955 under the even-more unwieldy moniker of the Inter-Cities Industrial Fairs Cup. Devised by a trio of FIFA executive committee members that included FA general secretary Stanley Rous, it aimed to promote trade links between European cities – club teams replaced by representative city sides – with one team per city playing over two seasons. Having switched to a straight club competition, becoming simply the Fairs Cup, it was renamed the UEFA Cup for 1971/72 and rebranded the Europa League in 2009.


United’s 117 goals in the competition have come from 37 different scorers. Denis Law and Bobby Charlton have scored the most goals for the Reds in the competition with eight apiece, followed by Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and David Herd on six. Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Bruno Fernandes and John Connelly have scored five.


Alongside Rooney and Romelu Lukaku, Rashford is one of only three United players to score on his Reds debut in any European competition – Marcus found the net twice against Denmark’s Midtjylland in the 5-1 home win on 25 February 2016.

At the time, Rashford’s goal also made him United’s youngest European goalscorer at 18 years 117 days, eclipsing George Best’s 52-year record. However, Mason Greenwood took that accolade when he scored his first goal for the Reds against Astana in September 2019, aged 17 years and 353 days.


With just 60 seconds left in our 1995/96 first-round second leg against Russians Rotor Volgograd, and United – still without the banned Eric Cantona – facing a first home defeat in European competition in 39 years, Peter Schmeichel wrote his name into club folklore. Having shipped two goals inside 19 minutes, and still 2-1 behind on the night and heading out unless two goals could be found, Schmeichel’s header from Ryan Giggs’s corner restored parity. ‘Big Pete’ remains the only Reds’ goalkeeper to score for the club in open play.

Peter Schmeichel scored for United against Rotor Volgograd in 1995.


Fittingly, three United players have hit trebles in the tournament:

Law v Djurgardens IF: First round, second leg, 27 October 1964

Charlton v Borussia Dortmund: Second round, first leg, 11 November 1964

Ibrahimovic v Saint-Etienne: Round of 32, first leg, 16 February 2017


Our 2016/17 triumph in the competition comprised a 15-game odyssey, one game short of equalling the club record for a European sojourn – both of our 2001/02 and 2002/03 Champions League campaigns had 16.

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United have met British opposition three times in this competition: Everton (1964/65), Dundee United (1984/85) and Liverpool (2015/16). We’ll gloss over the last one, but the first two were thrillers. United inched out Everton (whose league crown we would also pinch) 3-2 on aggregate in the third round through David Herd’s winner at Goodison Park. As for the men from Tannadice, they were beaten 5-4 across two legs, thanks to a nail-biting 3-2 win north of the border. After a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, United twice led through Mark Hughes and a Gary McGinnis own goal, only to be pegged back before Arnold Muhren’s 77th-minute decider.


Thursday’s quarter-final first leg against Granada will be our 71st appearance in this competition.

Our full record reads…

Played: 70
Wins: 34
Draws: 21
Losses: 15
Goals scored: 117
Goals conceded: 54
Goal difference: +63