In Focus: How Mkhitaryan fared on his rare Man United start

Date published: Friday 25th November 2016 9:08

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Back in the fold for United

Henrikh Mkhitaryan came into the Manchester United team against Feyenoord on Thursday for only his second Red Devils start, but did he make an impression?

Here, Press Association Sport assesses how the Armenian fared in the Europa League clash at Old Trafford as United thrashed their Dutch opponents 4-0.

Link-up play

Mkhitaryan looked determined from the off to make a positive impression having been given his chance, and was to the fore early on. A particularly nice exchange of passes with Wayne Rooney in the ninth minute ended with him just unable to latch on to the captain’s through-ball, and he showed plenty of other neat touches thereafter.

Goal threat

The Armenian had his first attempt on goal in the 19th minute with a drive that was blocked, and, with him appearing increasingly in the groove as time went on, several others followed. The ball went harmlessly to Brad Jones when Mkhitaryan slid in to try to convert from a Paul Pogba pass around the half-hour mark, and the 27-year-old then stepped things up in the opening stages of the second half.

He was unable to get a shot or pass away during one burst forward shortly after the break but the run to that point had been very impressive, and he subsequently saw a deflected strike tapped in by Juan Mata and scooped over the bar himself from a Rooney cross, with the flag raised on both occasions for offside. Mkhitaryan then fired into the side-netting having combined with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who later failed to finish from his through-ball.

Overall

He got a considerable round of applause when he was substituted late on, and Mkhitaryan had earned it. This display should do wonders for his confidence.

What he said

“It was a pleasure to play again and start the game,” Mkhitaryan told BT Sport.

“I try to do my best and it’s a very good result.

“It has been difficult to watch the team from the sidelines but you have to have passion and work hard.

“I hope it is a new start for me.”

What his manager said

“The reception [from the fans] he deserved because he played very well,” said Mourinho.

“Always improving, improving, improving, improving until the moment he was really tired and I felt it was the right moment to take him off and to let him come off with a very good performance.

“It was important for his confidence and he will try to keep adapting and trying to replicate this kind of quality performance in the Premier League which is a competition with different difficulties.”

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