Pogba goal sends Man United into Europa League last eight

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MILAN (Reuters) – Manchester United reached the Europa League quarter-finals after a brilliantly-taken Paul Pogba goal earned them a 1-0 win at AC Milan to secure a 2-1 aggregate victory in their last-16 tie on Thursday.

Pogba came off the bench at halftime to make his first appearance for United since sustaining a thigh injury on Feb. 6, and the France midfielder needed only three minutes to score a fine goal.

Former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on as a substitute to try to drag Milan back into the match, and he almost equalised in the 74th minute but was denied by a good save from the visitors’ goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (R) challenges for the ball AC Milan?s Pierre Kalulu during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match between AC Milan and Manchester United at Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, Italy, 18 March 2021. EPA-EFE/MATTEO BAZZI

Milan applied plenty of late pressure but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side held on to remain in the hunt to win their first trophy since a Europa League success under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

“We have come through a very difficult tie against a very good team,” Solskjaer told BT Sport.

“Anything can happen in cup competitions, but we are through, we are confident and looking forward to the draw.”

United’s away record this season – they are unbeaten on the road in the Premier League in 2020-21 – will have given them confidence ahead of the Milan trip, but Solskjaer’s team struggled to find that away goal they needed in the first half.

Milan’s Belgian midfielder Alexis Saelemaekers went closest to breaking the deadlock, but was denied by a smart block from Henderson.

Pogba replaced Marcus Rashford for United in a surprise switch, but his impact was immediate, as the Frenchman cleverly squeezed a strike in at the near post to score his first goal in European competition this season.

Ibrahimovic, Milan’s top scorer this season, was also returning from injury against the club he scored 28 goals for from 2016-18, and the 39-year-old posed a threat, but Henderson’s stop was the closest he came to finding the net.

Pogba almost added a second when he headed just over late on, but one goal was enough for United.

(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond)

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