A Show of Strength – Europa League Final 2017

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 27, 2017 12:46

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A Show of Strength – Europa League Final 2017

By Derek Miller © Derek Miller ( May 25th 2017)

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If ever a city needed a show of solidarity; if ever a country needed to show it’s resilience, and if ever a football match could symbolise the strength of sport to unify the public, the Europa League Final, in the appropriately named, Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden, was the setting to stage a timely response in the face of unspeakable terror.

Precisely 48 hours after one of the country’s most cowardly and callous terror attacks struck the heart of Manchester, the referee blew the final whistle in Stockholm, with Manchester United emerging the winners in a clinical 2 – 0 victory over Ajax of Amsterdam.
United’s manager José Mourinho orchestrated a record equalling sweep for the club who employed him one year ago. In collecting the Europa League Trophy, United, joined only, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus, and Ajax as winners of all Europe’s elite football honours.

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Ajax’s Coach, Peter Bosz, could do little from the sidelines to cajole the youngest team ever fielded in a European Final, as Ajax succumbed to a deflected goal from world record signing Paul Pogba and a neat close range flick from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, either side of half time.

Ajax, who only narrowly missed reaching the summit of the Dutch Football League, trailing Feyenoord by just one point, still make the 2017-18 Champions League qualifying round in the process.

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Despite finishing a disappointing 6th in the Premier League, Manchester United’s Europa League victory earned them automatic entry to the coveted Champions League Group Stage, with the healthy points coefficient collected all but guaranteeing them a slot in Pot 2 of the seeding, ousting Premier League runners up Tottenham Hotspur to the less desirable Pot 3, where they could face tougher Group opposition.

Football itself became a footnote, however, as players, managers, fans and Uefa, alike, paid respects to the victims’ families. Perspective as well as passion was in evidence. And as the broader pursuit of peace and justice continues, the season for Manchester clubs came to an end with a fitting message of unity and support for the citizens of one of the most fabled cities in the game. #acityunited.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 27, 2017 12:46