Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football European

United dedicate Europa League win to Manchester bomb victims


By Adrian Rutherford

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and his players dedicated their Europa League success last night to the victims of Monday's terror attack. Two days after a suicide bomber killed 22 people following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, United's fans, players and staff stood unbowed in Stockholm.

Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured a 2-0 win against Dutch side Ajax and the club's first continental trophy in nine years and restored them to the Champions League next season.

Mourinho (right) said: "Obviously it takes happiness from our achievement. If we could, we would change obviously the people's lives for this cup. We wouldn't think twice.

"Does the cup make the city of Manchester a bit happier? Maybe.

"We just came to do our job. We came without the happiness that it should bring. When you come for these big matches you go happy. You go proud.

"And we didn't. We just came to do our job. And the boys were fantastic because they blocked - they put a wall in front of their eyes - and they stayed isolated from everything and they focused on the football match which I think we played really well, and the boys deserved it."

Mourinho said he agreed with the decision not to postpone the final.

"The world goes on, it doesn't stop. I agreed with the Uefa decision to play the match," he added. United have now won all three of Europe's major competitions, having previously won the Champions League three times, in 1968, 1999 and 2008, and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1991.

Mourinho added: “We totally deserved the win. I am so happy to see the boys with the crutches with the trophy and now I am on holiday. I don’t want to see any international friendlies, I am selfish. I can’t do it.

“For me, enough is enough. It has been a very hard few months, we were short of numbers.

“Three trophies (Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League) in one season and (qualifying for) the Champions League. I am very happy in my most difficult season as a manager.”

Paul Pogba also dedicated United’s glory night in Stockholm to the victims of the Manchester terror attack.

He said: “We know that things like this are very sad, all over the world: in Manchester, in London and in Paris, too. We had to focus because it was a very important game and we won for them and for the country.

“We played for England, we played for Manchester, and we played for the people who died.”

Referring to the cup win, which earns United a place in the Champions League next season, Pogba added: “We knew we were going to play in the Europa League and the goal was to win the Europa League.

“We did it, so we’re very proud. Some say we had a bad season but the prize is here. We worked hard and we’ll enjoy it now.”

Mkhitaryan was happy to fulfil his colleagues’ prophecies after helping the Red Devils reach the Stockholm showpiece with five European goals this term.

The Armenian said: “Thank you to my team-mates because without them I couldn’t score so many goals.

“I’m happy that I scored here today in the final because everyone was saying, ‘You’re going to score in the final’ and after the last game against Celta Vigo I was dreaming about scoring in the final and I did.

“We were fighting in two races: the Premier League and the Europa League.

“In the Premier League we couldn’t hit the target to go to the Champions League but tonight we gave all our effort and now we’re playing in the Champions League next season.”

Juan Mata, who somewhat unexpectedly started the game, added: “It’s massive for us.

“We came here with one option — to win the trophy that the club had never won and we did it so we are happy.

“It was a great final and my first European final with United, hopefully the first of many.

“Especially after what happened (in Manchester) we wanted to win this and we’ll bring the trophy back.

“It was a very difficult week for a lot of us and for the city of Manchester and we tried to win for all the people who have suffered. This trophy is for them.”

Herrera echoed his team-mates’ sentiments. He said: “I want to dedicate this trophy to the victims. This is just football and what happened two days ago was horrible.

“We want peace in the world, a normal world with respect. We are just football players but we have an audience so we just want to see everyone work together for a normal world.

“This happened in Manchester but everywhere we want to see a united world and fight for peace, respect in the world — no more attacks and deaths please.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph