It wasn’t exactly how Zlatan Ibrahimovic – he with a flair for the dramatic – drew it up, but he’ll take it.
Zlatan scored a hat trick as Manchester United snuck by St. Etienne 3-0 in the first leg of their Europa League matchup at Old Trafford. The French side had a number of good chances in the first half, but couldn’t capitalize to draw level, and they faded in the second half as the English club pushed them.
The star Manchester United striker delivered a close-range free-kick that clipped a defender on its way through the wall and trickled into the back of the net for the opener just 15 minutes in. The initial foul was contentious, as Zlatan looked to seek out contact to earn the set-piece.
Zlatan picked out the second as well, but he didn’t have to do any of the hard work. Marcus Rashford burst down the left past numerous green shirts, and delivered a pinpoint low ball across the face of goal to an unmarked Ibrahimovic who simply tapped home the ball.
Paul Pogba was bright throughout the match, and he nearly had United’s second on the hour mark when he undressed Jordan Veretout with a brilliant spin move and ripped a shot that beat goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier but beat the post. Pogba again came close (and probably should have scored) as Daley Blind delivered an exquisite free-kick right to the head of Pogba at the far post, but he couldn’t get the header down, instead clanging the crossbar.
St. Etienne had its best chance in the 73rd minute as substitute Nolan Roux chipped a one-on-one opportunity with United goalkeeper Sergio Romero over the crossbar with nobody else to challenge the shot. Zlatan scored his second goal shortly after.
The match pitted Paul Pogba against his brother Florentin, but it was the Manchester United star who had the better of his brother on the day as Florentin was substituted off with 12 minutes to go due to injury. Zlatan’s final came late on as he was bundled over in the box softly, and he buried the chance from the spot to put the Red Devils through without a doubt.
27 games from the The Soccer Tournament (TST) will be aired across NBC Sports’ platforms in the summer of 2023 as some of the biggest clubs in the world will be represented as teams square off to try and win the $1 million grand prize.
Games will be aired on Peacock and CNBC, as the inaugural 7-a-side tournament takes place in Cary, North Carolina and the likes of West Ham United, Wolves, Borussia Dortmund, Wrexham and various teams from around the world including former USMNT and USWNT players will compete.
“On June 4th, two teams will face off in our championship game for a million dollars. The second place team will get nothing. We are excited to showcase the drama of that moment and 26 additional high-stakes matches through this partnership with NBC Sports, home of the Premier League in the United States,” said TST founder and CEO Jon Mugar.
Here are more details on what to expect from The Soccer Tournament this summer:
“A first-of-its-kind soccer event, TST will feature 32 teams from eight different countries competing in a World Cup-like group stage. Sixteen teams will advance to the knockout stage, where they will compete in single elimination games for a $1 million grand prize.
“Teams competing in the event include 7-a-side teams from notable European clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, West Ham, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wrexham, Como 1907, Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv, MLS club Charlotte FC, Liga MX’s Club Necaxa, Clint Dempsey’s Team Dempsey, and US Women, a team of former US women’s national team players organized by Heather O’Reilly and coached by Mia Hamm.
“Notable players include legendary Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas (Como 1907), NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (Nati SC), social media influencer and former MLS Academy product Noah Beck (Borussia Dortmund), among others. TST’s field will also include 23 former U.S. senior national team players on both the men’s and women’s side with nearly 1,400 matches of experience combined.”
The Premier League winners three times running have an FA Cup under their belt after beating Manchester United on June 3 and the final jewel in their treble crown awaits with a win in Istanbul on June 10.
Manchester City won its seventh FA Cup and moved with a Champions League win of the very rare treble with a 2-1 win over Manchester United on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.
Ilkay Gundogan scored a goal after just 13 seconds — an FA Cup Final record — and volleyed home off a corner kick in the second half after a Bruno Fernandes penalty had drawn United level before halftime.
The Manchester derby nature of this FA Cup Final, the first final match-up between the heated rivals in tournament history, will make City’s win even sweeter, and the cherry on top is that United was unable to stop City’s quest to match its 1998-99 team.
That’s the only time in English history we’ve seen a treble that included the European Cup. Man City meets Inter Milan next week in the Champions League Final. A win means the treble.
Erik ten Hag is denied a domestic cup double in his first season as United boss. The FA Cup has been played since 1871, and Man United’s 12 tournament wins trail only Arsenal’s 12. United last won in 2016.
Treble-chasing Man City didn’t need its best, shows rivals distance to climb
This could’ve been a clean sheet win for City on another day, who had to deal with a 1-1 deadlock because of a legal but unsavory handball call against Jack Grealish that sent Bruno Fernandes to the spot.
Yes, United will point to the fact that it had to rebound from Ilkay Gundogan’s super quick opener, but City’s train barely left the station in this game and it was still a comfortable-enough win.
City let United hang around but there was always a feeling of inevitability: A moment of class was coming from one of the best teams ever assembled in world football.
Erling Haaland didn’t score and City misfired on a number of opportunities that it generally puts home. Is that a bad sign for next week’s Champions League Final?
That remains to be seen and debated, but there’s no question that City showed United how much more there is to be done to catch up to the champs. Why? Because City’s B-game was more than enough to collect another trophy.
Manchester City vs Manchester United player ratings: Stars of the Show
Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City vs Manchester United as it happened
THE FASTEST GOOOOOAAAALLL IN FA CUP FINAL HISTORY! It’s Man City taking the lead as a long ball is headed down by Erling Haaland and Ilkay Gundogan’s first touch is a stunning strike from outside the box. Man City, 1-0!
That’s certainly put the game on its head, and City has another chance go very close before United can get their hands anywhere near the game.
City’s had three of the match’s four shot attempts and about 67 percent of the ball at the quarter-hour mark but United’s press is keeping things interesting and there’s been a little drama in the United third.
Fine margins… could’ve been 2-0! Erling Haaland is an absolute full stretch to poke a Bernardo Silva pass toward goal, but he can barely get to it and De Gea corrals the ball with ease. 17′
CLOSE! Kevin De Bruyne drills a left-footed shot that spins just wide of the post as City is starting to collect near-misses. That’s both asserting control but keeping the Red Devils in the match. 29′
VAR CHECK. Could there be a penalty for Man United? Aaron Wan-Bissaka heads a cross off Jack Grealish’s arm, and the video review is putting Man United on the spot! PENALTY…
GOAL! Bruno Fernandes bests Stefan Ortega with a stuttering run-up, rolling the ball the other way to make it 1-1.
Looks like this one’s going to the break at 1-1, and Erik ten Hag has to be thrilled about that. Neutrals will be happy, too, as we’ve got a tense derby finale in the balance. City’s taken six of the 10 shots in this one and had 60 percent of the ball but United’s got the xG lead 1.00-0.61.
GOAL! City on the front foot again, with no changes to start the second half, and a 51st-minute corner free kick sees Ilkay Gundogan etching his name further in Man City lore when he waits out De Bruyne’s lofted free kick and grounds the ball inside the near post. Man City, 2-1.
SAVE! David De Gea reacts to make an in-tight leg save on De Bruyne.
OFFSIDE GOAL: Gundogan is point blank to tap in a loose ball but is offside. It would’ve been a hat trick.
CLOSE! At the other end, United sub Alejandro Garnacho drags a shot just wide of the far post. Those fine margins remain part of this one!
It’s desperation time for Manchester United, who only had seven minutes and stoppage to get in the way of City’s second jewel in its treble crown.
Gundogan’s close to his hat trick again but this time Luke Shaw intervenes to force a corner kick.
WOAH! Very close to a stoppage-time equalizer as Scott McTominay makes chaos in Stefan Ortega’s box, leading to a corner kick. Cleared by Kyle Walker for the moment. Less than two minutes left now…
Jefferson Lerma (Released)
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