Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s remarkable debut season for Manchester United hit a new peak as he scored his first hat-trick for the team during Thursday’s 3-0 win over Saint-Etienne.
The hat-trick showcased Ibrahimovic’s all-around ability, as he scored a free-kick, a classic poacher’s goal, and a penalty, and it also marked just one more occasion when Ibrahimovic tormented Saint-Etienne. The Swedish striker has now scored 17 goals in 13 appearances against the southern French side.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Has now scored 15 goals against Saint-Etienne in his career, at least 3 more than he has managed against any other team— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 16, 2017
Ibrahimovic is now up to 23 goals for the season, which is the most anyone has scored for Manchester United since Robin van Persie’s 30-goal season in 2012/13. His three goals also took his tally in Europe this season to five, making him the first United player to hit that mark in a European campaign in five years.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Is the first player to score five goals in a European campaign for Manchester United since the 2011/12 campaign (Rooney)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 16, 2017
Fellow striker Anthony Martial has been under the spotlight this season, with Jose Mourinho having dropped the Frenchman from his starting XI before challenging the young star to win his spot back. The 21-year-old has seemingly finally received the message, following up an excellent display on Saturday in the Premier League with another good outing in which he terrorized the Saint-Etienne defence.
Anthony Martial: Completed at least two more dribbles than any other player in Manchester United's 3-0 win over Saint-Etienne (5) pic.twitter.com/sw3a4Z136V— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 16, 2017
Thursday night’s game was a memorable occasion for Paul Pogba, who was facing his older brother Florentin for the first time in professional football. Both Pogba brothers could have gotten on the scoresheet, and the Manchester United man came closest, sending a header crashing against the bar and thus continuing his love affair with the woodwork this season.
Paul Pogba: Has been denied by the woodwork eight times in all competitions for Manchester United this season #EuropaLeague— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 16, 2017
Jose Mourinho will be especially pleased with his team’s newfound defensive solidity, although Manchester United rode their luck at times against Saint-Etienne. While Thursday’s performance saw some uncharacteristic sloppiness that could have resulted in a goal, United came away with yet another clean sheet, their fifth in a row. It was their third straight in Europe, and, intriguingly, the sixth consecutive clean sheet for backup goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who got the nod on Thursday as David De Gea was rested.
Manchester United: Have kept five clean sheets in a row in all competitions for the first time since October-November 2015 #EuropaLeague— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 16, 2017