Jose MourinhoÂ’s Manchester United qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League with a 2-0 win in
Ukraine against Zorya Luhansk
The Old Trafford club may have left it to the last game to qualify second in Group A behind Fenerbahce but they have by far the strongest squad in the competition and if they hit form they will be unbeatable.
Armenian superstar Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first goal for the club side footing into the net
after a solo run
The summer signing from Dortmund spent 4 years playing in the Ukrainian League and seemed to thrive on the second rate pitch
Record signing Paul Pogba played a brilliant through ball for Ibrahimovic to net UnitedÂ’s second.
United will be joined by Tottenham Hotspurs who dropped down from the Champions League after
the North London club could only manage third in their group with 2 defeats out of 3 Wembley
Southampton failed to make it into the knock out stage with a 1-1 draw at St MaryÂ’s that saw opponents Hapoel Beer Sheva progress.
For the second year running the competition winners will get a berth in next seasons Champions
It may be the best opportunity for Manchester United and Spurs to get into the Â“promised landÂ” where the financial rewards are very high
Sevilla benefitted last term and earned a place beating Liverpool in the Europa League final.
This incentive may just be the spark that makes English clubs take the competition more seriously
In the last few years many sides have fielded under par teams in order to rest players for Premier League matches
Spanish clubs have always put a hundred percent into winning the competition and so should Premier League teams
This season it is probably Manchester UnitedÂ’s best chance of silverware, TottenhamÂ’s too.
Back in the day English clubs dominated when it was known as the UEFA Cup (previously the Fairs Cup), bringing the large trophy back to British shores 6 years on the trot between 1967 and 1973. The finals were played over 2 legs, home and away, until 1998.
Here is a list English clubs winning the competition:
1967-68 Leeds United bt Ferencvaros (Hun) 1-0 on aggÂ’
1968-69 Newcastle bt Ujpesti (Hun) 5-3 on aggÂ’
1969-70 Arsenal bt Anderlecht (Bel) 4-3 on aggÂ’
1970-71 Leeds United bt Juventus (Ita) 3-3 on away goals
1971-72 Tottenham bt Wolves 3-2 on aggÂ’
1972-73 Liverpool bt MÃ¶nchengladbach (Ger) 3-2 on aggÂ’
If Mourinho can find his best team United have a great chance of entering the pantheon of clubs
that have won all three major UEFA trophies, which include the European Champion Clubs'
Cup/Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League and the Cup Winners' Cup
The last English club to win the Europa League/UEFA Cup was Chelsea in 2013 who added it to their 2012 Champions League trophy and the 1971 Cup WinnerÂ’s Cup to join the select group.
The other clubs to win all 3 competitions are:
European Champion Clubs' Cup: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1995
UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League: 1992
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1987
European Champion Clubs' Cup: 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League: 1996
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1967
European Champion Clubs' Cup: 1985, 1996
UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League: 1977, 1990, 1993
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1984
Source : DSG