Feb 16, 2017 at 8.05pm UK at ​Old Trafford
Man UtdManchester United
St EtienneSaint-Etienne
Ibrahimovic (15', 75', 88' pen.)
Martial (47'), Herrera (58'), Lingard (67'), Pogba (71')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Pajot (64')

Result: Zlatan Ibrahimovic hat-trick gives Manchester United breathing space

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his first hat-trick for Manchester United to give them a 3-0 first-leg lead over Saint-Etienne in the last 32 of the Europa League.

Manchester United will head to Saint-Etienne for the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie sitting on a 3-0 lead, courtesy of a hat-trick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The ex-Sweden international scored twice in the final 15 minutes at Old Trafford to well and truly swing the tie in the Red Devils' favour, following what had been a well-contested match up until that point.

A first treble in the colours of United for Ibrahimovic, who now has a whopping 17 career goals against Saint-Etienne, also extends their unbeaten home record in European competition to 15 without defeat and sees them take a giant step towards the last 16.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring against Saint-Etienne in the Europa League on February 16, 2017© SilverHub

United's unchanged backline failed to settle in the opening stages, with Eric Bailly twice at fault for letting the visitors - who were previously unbeaten in 10 European games - in behind.

Kevin Monnet-Paquet was the first to pounce, only for his cross to be cleared away at the front post, before an even worse error gave Romain Hamouma a clean shot on goal which he failed to take.

Manchester United's Antonio Valencia vies with Saint-Etienne's Kevin Monnet-Paquet in the Europa League on February 16, 2017© SilverHub

It did not take too long for momentum to swing in the Red Devils' favour, however, as Anthony Martial - earning a second-successive start - fired in a shot for Stephane Ruffier to push aside.

The fortunate breakthrough goal arrived 15 minutes in after Zlatan Ibrahimovic got to the ball ahead of Jordan Veretout to win his side a free kick 20 yards from goal, which he sent past Ruffier at a snail's pace via a deflection off the wall.

Saint-Etienne edged the remainder of the first half, seeing a penalty shout turned down when Daley Blind caught Jorginho with a trailing leg, while Henri Saivet blasted two attempts narrowly wide of the target.

Hamouma also saw his goal-bound shot blocked aside by Bailly as the opening 45 minutes transpired, moments before Monnet-Paquet's shot deflected off Chris Smalling and ended in the welcoming hands of stand-in keeper Sergio Romero - one of two changes from last time out, along with the addition of Marouane Fellaini in midfield.

United themselves had a couple of decent openings to extend their advantage, though, as Juan Mata and Martial both forced saves out of Ruffier in a lively encounter.

The second period began in a stop-start manner due to a succession of collisions, including a Martial elbow on Kevin Malcuit which did not look intentional.

Ruffier was by far the busier of the two keepers, denying Martial at the end of his latest mazy run after seeing Ibrahimovic's header ruled out for offside.

Paul Pogba, in direct competition with brother Florentin Pogba this evening, grew more into the match as he sent one marginally wide and then directed a header against the crossbar from close range.

Paul Pogba and Florentin Pogba in action during the Europa League match between Manchester United and Saint-Etienne on February 16, 2017© SilverHub

A pivotal moment in the tie arrived 15 minutes from the end of the first leg, with Nolan Roux coming off the bench and lifting a shot over Romero but only on to the roof of the net, but Ibrahimovic made no mistake at the other end by converting from a similar range after Marcus Rashford's cutback was helped into his path.

Jesse Lingard blasted a shot wide as the final stages closed in, though the decisive moment did arrive 88 minutes into to match when Ibrahimovic was sent to the ground inside the box, before brushing himself down to complete his treble from the spot.

Luke Shaw of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on August 22, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
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