A superb performance by Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the difference as Manchester United defeated a highly determined French side St. Etienne in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg fixture.
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The Swede netted a hat-trick to put his side in vantage position ahead of the return fixture in France on Wednesday, February 22.
The 35-year-old opened the scoring from a freekick in the 15th minute when he struck into the far post as goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier had no chance.
The visitors then raised their game in a bid to get the crucial away goal but United’s number one shot stopper Sergio Romero pulled brilliant saves ad both teams went into the break with United leading 1 – 0.
Knowing one goal might not be enough ahead of the reverse fixture, United ran riot in the second half and were rewarded with a brilliant goal when Zlatan's got his 2nd goal of the night against the visitors in the 75th minute.
Zlatan completed his hat-trick via the penalty spot after he was fouled in the area. He stepped-up and buried the ball into the corner.
A fourth would really rub salt in the wounds as Paul Pogba sent a free-kick over the wall and inches wide. It ended; Manchester United 3 – 0 St. Etienne.
The return leg will be played on February 22.