Paul Pogba celebrates with Bruno Fernandes after scoring against Milan

AC Milan 0 Manchester United 1

Thursday 18 March 2021 21:50

Paul Pogba was the matchwinner in Milan as he returned from injury to score the vital away goal that sends Manchester United through to the Europa League quarter-finals.

The Frenchman scored a beauty of a goal just two minutes after coming on at half-time at San Siro and looked a threat throughout the second 45 as his side saw out the 1-0 win on the night to triumph 2-1 on aggregate.

Dean Henderson made a couple of excellent stops in the United goal - including one from Zlatan Ibrahimovic - as the Reds recorded another clean sheet and most importantly booked a spot in the Europa League's last eight.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to stick with the same side that secured a vital, hard-fought 1-0 win over West Ham last Sunday, but there were notable returns to the bench with David De Gea, Pogba and Donny van de Beek all available again. Milan, meanwhile, named both Diogo Dalot and Ibrahimovic amongst their substitutes.

United's intent was clear from the off, with a lively start featuring plenty of early possession. The first opening of note came on 13 minutes when Luke Shaw, fresh from a recall to the England squad, linked up well with Bruno Fernandes but our no.18 fired over.

Franck Kessie, who had a goal at Old Trafford chalked off for handball, was buzzing around for the hosts, but his shot on 15 minutes was bread and butter for Henderson.

Soon after at the other end, United had a penalty shout turned down when Daniel James was barged to the ground by Fikayo Tomori.

Milan grew stronger as the half wore on and Henderson did well to push away an Alexis Saelemaekers shot from the edge of the area and then Rade Krunic fired wide just before the break. It remained honours even on the night at half-time, but with the hosts still holding that away-goal advantage.


Pogba entered the fray, in place of Marcus Rashford, at the restart and took up the Mancunican's position on the left wing. And the Frenchman made an immediate impact.

Fernandes found Aaron Wan-Bissaka with a lovely pass across the box. The ball eventually dropped amongst a huddle of players and Fred got a vital foot in, which led to Pogba taking control of the frenzied situation. Our no.6 feigned to shoot before curling the ball home brilliantly from a tight angle to net a vital away goal.

Two minutes later, Saelemaekers took aim after cutting in from the left but his shot was straight at Henderson, before Pogba found Greenwood who turned well in the box and forced a decent save from Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Current Reds defender Dalot and former United striker Ibrahimovic both joined the action on 65 minutes and Milan immediately looked for the big frontman with a couple of high balls. It was Kessie who had a go soon after as he tried to flick a shot on goal from close range, but Lindelof blocked brilliantly on the ground.

United needed another superb stop soon after, this time from Henderson, as he reacted instinctively to punch away Ibrahimovic’s point-blank header from a Hakan Calhanoglu cross.

The Reds' work ethic and fighting spirit were decisive factors in the final stages as Solskjaer's men held out for a superb and well-deserved victory, both on the night and on aggregate. Quarter-finals here we come!


AC Milan: G. Donnarumma (c), Kalulu (Dalot 65), Tomori, Kjaer, Theo Hernandez, Krunic (Brahim Diaz 72), Kessie, Meite, Castillejo (Ibrahimovic 65), Hakan Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers.

Subs: Tatarusanu, A. Donnarumma, Bennacer, Tonali, Tonin, Gabbia. 

Booked: Kalulu, Dalot, Kjaer, Theo Hernandez

United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Shaw; McTominay, Fred; James, Fernandes, Rashford (Pogba 46); Greenwood.

Subs: De Gea, Grant, Telles, Tuanzebe, Williams, Amad, Matic, van de Beek.

Goal: Pogba 48

Booked: Shaw