Match-winner Zlatan Ibrahimovic demanded an upturn in quality from his team-mates after Manchester United stuttered to a slender and unconvincing victory against unheralded Ukrainian outfit Zorya Luhansk.
Former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain striker Ibrahimovic proved the difference between the two sides, settling a tepid encounter against a team which finished fourth in the Ukrainian top-flight last season with the 52nd European goal of his career.
Victory, United’s third in succession, reignited the Red Devils’ Europa League campaign after an opening day defeat in Holland and they now sit third in Group A, just a point behind leaders Fenerbahce, who beat Feyenoord 1-0.
“We won and that is what counts after losing against Feyenoord,” said Ibrahimovic. “If you want to go through, you need to win the game, we did that. We could have done much more though and I expect much more from the team.”
The clash continued to lack any form of intensity well into the second period and as Zorya grew in ambition, winger Paulinho, on as a substitute, drew a save, albeit a relatively comfortable one, from United stopper Sergio Romero.
United eventually burst into life and breached the Zorya defence on 69 minutes as substitute Wayne Rooney’s scuffed effort from advancing full-back Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s cutback looped into the air, allowing Ibrahimovic to rise above skipper Mykyta Kamenyuka and head home.