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Pogba goal gives United win over Milan in Europa League

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Milan, March 19 (IANS) Substitute Paul Pogba struck just minutes after his half-time introduction to give Manchester United a 1-0 win at AC Milan to progress 2-1 on aggregate to the last eight of the Europa League.

Midfielder Pogba, on his return from injury, fired in high at the near post in the 49th minute on Thursday to give United the honours in the battle between former European champions, DPA reported.

United led the first leg at Old Trafford until being denied victory by an injury-time equalizer but made no mistake in the return despite a lethargic first half.

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“Obviously, we’re very happy we’re through,” United full back Luke Shaw told BT Sport. “I’ll be honest, and the lads and staff would agree, we weren’t good at all especially first half we were awful.

“Second half it always helps to have a world class player like Paul (Pogba) to make a difference and he did that. But we know we need to be better than tonight.”

Pogba, missing since early last month, made the difference and even the introduction of top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his return from injury, could not save the hosts.

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“The first half was a bit of an even game,” said Milan defender Fikayo Tomori.

“After the first leg, we came into the came confidently but credit to Manchester United, they limited us on the day.”

Arsenal reached the quarter-finals despite a 1-0 defeat at home to Olympiacos while London rivals Tottenham Hotspur were stunned by a brilliant Dinamo Zagreb comeback.

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Arsenal were defending a 3-1 lead from Greece in their home leg and though Youssef El Arabi struck with a deflection in the second half, Olympiacos could not repeat their come-from-behind escapade from 2020 when they eliminated the Gunners in the last 32.

A petulant late red card for Ousseynou Ba ended Olympiacos’ hopes of a miracle and Arsenal eased into Friday’s draw.

“We’re obviously really happy to go through,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. “We had a tough opponent, we knew that.

“We knew that they weren’t going to give up. At the same time, we have to be fair with ourselves, and today we were nowhere near the levels that we have to set ourselves.”

In Zagreb, a second half double from Mislav Orsic cancelled Spurs’ 2-0 first leg lead to take the contest to extra-time and the Croatia midfielder completed his hat-trick – and the comeback – with a brilliant solo winner for a 3-0 triumph.

“It’s hard to say something after this,” said Orsic. “This is like a dream, a historical result. One of the biggest victories in the club’s history. We all played as one, this is the match to remember.”

Dinamo had Damir Krznar on the bench after former coach Zoran Mamic was jailed for fraud this week.

Spurs produced an appalling performance to increase the pressure on manager Jose Mourinho with the team sitting only eighth in the Premier League.

“My team didn’t bring to the game the basics of football or life — to respect our jobs and give everything. I can only apologise to the Tottenham supporters,” Mourinho said

Steven Gerrard’s Scottish title winners Rangers crashed out 2-0 at home to Slavia Prague, 3-1 on aggregate, with nine men. The hosts had Kemar Roofe red carded for a brutal challenge on keeper Ondrej Kolar and Leon Balogun dismissed for two yellows.

Villarreal defeated Dynamo Kiev 2-0, replicating the score from their first leg in Ukraine, and Ajax won 2-0 at Young Boys of Switzerland for a 5-0 aggregate cruise.

Roma won 2-1 away to Shakhtar Donetsk to complete a 5-1 aggregate rout while Norway’s Molde beat Granada 2-1 in a game played in Budapest because of coronavirus restrictions – the Spaniards progressed 3-2 on aggregate to continue their maiden European campaign.

–IANS

rkm/rt

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