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Manchester United 2-0 Ajax: Reds win historic Europa League title

United saw off Ajax to lift the Europa League trophy for the first time.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Manchester United won the Europa League for the first time in their history on Wednesday, beating Ajax 2-0 at the Friends Arena in Stockholm. Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan either side of halftime ensured a comfortable win for José Mourinho's men, who will be playing their European football in the Champions League next season.

United were the more dangerous team from the game's opening exchanges, with Marcus Rashford's lateral movement causing problems for Ajax's high defensive line. The first real chance came when Juan Mata drilled a ball across the face of the opposition goal, though the ball was just too far ahead of the onrushing Marouane Fellaini.

Ajax gradually seemed to be growing in confidence, but shot themselves in the foot after 18 minutes. A poor throw-in by left-back Jairo Riedewald was intercepted and found its way to Pogba via Fellaini, whose effort from the edge of the box took a huge deflection off Davinson Sánchez on its way in. It certainly wasn't pretty, but United had the advantage.

Captain Antonio Valencia drew a stop from Ajax keeper André Onana a few minutes later, but United were noticeably more defensive after breaking the deadlock. The Dutch side dominated possession, but United controlled the space; Mourinho's sturdy defence did its job, and Sergio Romero hadn't been seriously tested by the time the halftime whistle sounded.

United fans would've been understandably twitchy at the break after a season of giving away late leads, but things looked a lot more comfortable within three minutes of the restart. A corner was headed goalwards by Chris Smalling before being acrobatically flicked in by Mkhitaryan: United had one hand on the trophy.

For all of their continued possession, Ajax never looked like getting back into the game. United could've killed it off when Fellaini leapt to meet Pogba's cross just past the hour, though his header was straight at Onana. In the end, it didn't matter, with United seeing out the remaining 25 minutes with little fuss. Mourinho staked it all on this match, and the gamble paid off.