Zlatan's hat trick, Martial's movement lead United to rout of St Etienne
Manchester United virtually booked their progress to the next round against a St Etienne side whose approach play was very good but whose finishing was woeful. The visitors could well have departed with a 1-1 draw, but they were punished for their failures by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who claimed all three of the game's goals.
Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly all shone, though Ibrahimovic will inevitably take the headlines. Ander Herrera was as busily effective, as ever.
Antonio Valencia was overrun in the first half in a manner previously unseen this season, and Marouane Fellaini, slow in possession and movement, had an evening to forget.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Jose Mourinho made substitutions at key points, most notably Rashford for Mata and Jesse Lingard for Fellaini, and came away with a clean sheet and almost assured passage to the next stage. There were one or two anxious moments, but this was ultimately an excellent night's work for him.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 7 -- Had to be on his toes early on as Eric Bailly was isolated against St Etienne's speed on the break, getting down well, which set the tone for an alert and steady performance.
DF Antonio Valencia, 6 -- A mixed bag of a performance. Got forward as well as ever, but his final ball was often lacking and he was caught out of position several times, particularly at the end of the first half.
DF Eric Bailly, 8 -- Continually made interceptions when outnumbered in the inside-left position, made a superb sliding tackle in the first half, played the ball out with confidence and swept up against a notably fast attack. Very impressive indeed.
DF Chris Smalling, 6 -- Not his best performance -- less assured than Bailly, his positioning and passing was uncertain at times.
DF Daley Blind, 7 -- Made some surging runs forward, and covered his flank fairly well, using his fine positioning to negate much of the pace of the attackers.
MF Marouane Fellaini, 5 -- Was a ponderous presence in midfield, lacking the speed of thought and foot to help United move the play swiftly on. Looked most dangerous when in the final third, but the game largely passed him by.
MF Ander Herrera, 7 -- Hugely industrious again, conjuring some sublime touches. His passing went awry once or twice, but he was again crucial to United's tempo.
MF Paul Pogba, 8 -- The range and weight of his passing was often magnificent, and he was very difficult to dispossess. Could -- should -- have scored at least once, shaking the woodwork yet again with a close-range header.
MF Anthony Martial, 9 -- Ibrahimovic got the goals, but Martial was the most compelling performer, his movement with and without the ball endlessly bewildering for the visitors. A devastating presence when he is in such form.
MF Juan Mata, 8 -- His touch and vision were accomplished from the very start, and he again found room where few else could. An elusive and decisive creative force.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 8 -- He continued to torment St. Etienne, a team against whom he has scored more than any other, and on this night helped himself to a hat trick. He did not play particularly well -- his goals came from a deflected free-kick, a tap-in, and a well-struck penalty -- but he was in position when needed, and suitably ruthless.
MF Jesse Lingard, 7 (for Fellaini, 45) -- United immediately looked sharper with him on the field, his pressing and alertness in sharp contrast to the departed Fellaini.
MF Marcus Rashford, 8 (for Mata, 70) -- His fine dribbling galvanised United, and he set-up Zlatan superbly for his team's second. An elite talent.
MF Ashley Young, n/a (for Martial, 85) -- Came on as United were dominant, without much time to make an impact.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.