Paul Pogba scored just three minutes after returning to action as Manchester United beat AC Milan 1-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
The round of 16 was delicately placed from the first leg, which ended in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
This match had been a tense affair and this one was no different. The odds were at a premium in the first half despite decent intensity.
Alexis Saelemaekers probably had the best chance in the first half. The Milan man forced Dean Henderson to repel a shot on the ground.
Other than that, there were few times when either of the keepers got tested. For example, a few minutes before the luck of the Saelemaekers, Victor Lindelof made an excellent tackle to prevent Franck Kessie from getting into shooting position.
This moment summed up the pattern of the first half, with both sides pushing but struggling for clear chances.
The final action of the half saw Hakan Calhanoglu disturbed by Aaron Wan-Bissaka as he attempted to turn a cross into the corner. Milan’s attacking midfielder got a shot anyway, but he went wide.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a change at half-time, replacing Marcus Rashford with Pogba. The midfielder, absent for more than a month, had an instant impact on his return to action.
After a scramble for goal, Pogba pretended to shoot from a tight angle, before aiming and sticking it to the back of the net.
🙌 46 ‘Paul Pogba is replaced
🔥 48 ‘Paul Pogba scores
A vital goal for Man United! 👏 pic.twitter.com/UuPxhGWTzj
– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 18, 2021
This meant United had crucially equaled Milan in terms of away goals.
Ibrahimovic faces the old team but fails to score
Immediately the game came to life, with both sides now finding it easier to get shots on goal. Mason Greenwood was next to try United, but left a comfortable stop for Gianluigi Donnarumma.
As Milan looked to equalize, they sent out former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and defender Diogo Dalot on loan from the Red Devils.
Subscribe for free to the daily TEAMtalk newsletter …
Ibrahimovic nearly equaled Pogba in terms of score soon after arriving. He forced an excellent reactionary save from Henderson with a header.
However, that was his only real chance – and there wasn’t much for his teammates either, despite a lot of pressure. From where, United retained their 1-0 victory.
This puts them in the quarter-finals with an aggregate victory of 2-1. They will discover their opponents for the next round in Friday’s draw.