Mourinho: 'Probably my most hard season as manager'

Twenty two people died and more than 100 were injured after a suicide bomb attack at the Manchester Arena where American pop singer Ariana Grande was holding a concert on Monday.

Juan Mata and Chris Smalling emphasised how Manchester United were extra motivated to win the Europa League following Monday's atrocities at Manchester Arena.

In tough circumstances, United handled the occasion better than an Ajax side featuring six players aged 21 or under and playing in the famous Dutch club's first European final in 21 years.

The game actually saw a lot of patterns from the whole season, that it had so come to define and decide.

But their greater experience, coupled with an effective counter-attacking game plan, told against a youthful Ajax side who, with an average age of 22 years and 282 days, fielded the youngest starting XI in a major European final.

Several of the players shared a picture from the changing room of the team holding a banner that read "Manchester - A City United #PrayForManchester".

Victory enabled United manager Jose Mourinho, who said prior to the game that he and his players were struggling not to think about the tragedy, to bring his maiden Old Trafford season to a successful conclusion.

Manchester United players came to play in this match with black badge. I think there's a big difference in how the teams play, it's not about strength but how you use your bodies. I am so happy to see the [injured] boys with the crutches with the trophy and now I am on holiday.

David Beckham said United's 2-0 victory over the Dutch team "brought a little happiness at a hard time".

"I think I understand what's right and what's needed for the club, and I respect that".

The goals were scored by Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in either half as United secured a memorable and historic victory.

Fellaini laid the ball off to Pogba at the edge of the area, and the France midfielder allowed it to run across him before sending in a low left-footed shot that struck Davinson Sanchez's outstretched leg, looped up, and span into the net past wrong-footed goalkeeper Andre Onana.

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Speaking after the win, Mourinho acknowledged that it wasn't the most handsome or dominant performance from his men. They al so claimed silverware again, maintaining Jose Mourinho's record of winning every continental final he's ever played, and ensuring United have now become one of just five clubs - including Juventus, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and indeed Ajax - to win every historic European trophy.

The first game of next season will be against either Juventus or Real Madrid - whichever team wins the Champions League - in the European Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 8.

  • Julie Sanders