London, December 9, 2016: Manchester United are warming to the task in the Europa League as they booked a spot in the last 32 with a 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk on a freezing night in Ukraine on Thursday.
Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who made a mockery of his two-month exile from the starting lineup with a superb individual effort, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured an easy win that banished memories of their earlier group stage struggles.
The victory confirmed United in second place in Group A behind Turkish side Fenerbahce who ended Feyenoord’s qualification hopes with a 1-0 away win over the Dutch side.
Premier League Southampton, however, were dumped out after a 1-1 draw at home to Hapoel Beer Sheva that was enough to send the Israeli side into the next round as Group K runners-up.
United, who could now view the competition as their best route into the Champions League with their Premier League form continuing to disappoint, needed only a draw to progress but never looked in danger of suffering an upset.
Mkhitaryan, who joined United for $31.47 million from Borussia Dortmund in the close season, may finally have won over manager Jose Mourinho after he danced through the heart of the defence to slot home his first goal for the club early in the second half.
The Armenian, a constant thorn in Zorya’s side, looks to have regained the confidence that helped him score 23 goals for Dortmund in all competitions last season.
“I was waiting a long time for this goal,” Mkhitaryan told BT Sport. “My next goal has to be at Old Trafford because I want to score at home.”
Ibrahimovic netted in the 88th minute after latching on to a Paul Pogba through ball, his seventh goal in his last six games in all competitions.
The draw for the next round, when eight teams will drop into the competition from the Champions League, takes place on Monday.