Jose Mourinho claimed his second major trophy of the season and secured Champions League football for Manchester United as they overcame Ajax to win the Europa League final in Stockholm.
On an emotional night following the attack which killed 22 people at Ariana Grande’s concert at the Manchester Arena on Monday, United’s fans were allowed a measure of celebration as Jose Mourinho’s side won in comfort.
Paul Pogba’s deflected shot put them ahead in the 18th minute and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s sixth Europa League goal of the campaign, flicked in from Chris Smalling’s header at a corner, confirmed they would add to the EFL Cup won against Southampton earlier this season.
Wayne Rooney made a brief appearance as a substitute with a minute left and the game won, being handed the captain’s armband by Antonio Valencia on what could well be his farewell appearance for United.
And as the final whistle sounded and United’s celebrations began, chants of “Manchester” rang around the Friends Arena in tribute to those who died and were injured in the attack which cast a shadow over this showpiece occasion.
Mourinho – who has so often looked so unhappy this season – ran on to the field to celebrate with his players and was thrown in the air by his coaching staff and hugged by his son.
It means United are now the fifth team to claim the full quota of European trophies, joining an illustrious list with Ajax, Chelsea, Juventus and Bayern Munich.
Mourinho has had his moments of frustration this season – especially with 15 Premier League draws that led to an unsatisfactory sixth-place finish.
It left United’s Champions League hopes resting on this game but the win and subsequent qualification for the group stages of Europe’s elite tournament means that Mourinho can regard this season as a real success.
Some may question the quality of United’s performances and this undoubtedly remains a work in progress but two trophies and that place back in the Champions League is an impressive outcome, irrespective of the style in which it was achieved.
Adding to the much talked about and impressive statistic of Jose Mourinho never losing in the final of any major European competition in his career.