Madrid, Feb 17 (IANS) Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Roma’s Edin Dzeko each bagged a hat-trick against Saint Etienne and Villarreal respectively in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.
Ibrahimovic, who had squandered a series of chances in United’s previous match against Watford in the English Premier League, was far more clinical on Thursday as he helped his team open up a commanding first leg advantage against French Ligue 1 side St Etienne, taking his goal tally for his maiden season in England to 23, reports Efe.
Whilst the 3-0 result will have satisfied United manager Jose Mourinho, he was less pleased with his players’ first half performance, in which Saint Etienne frequently threatened to punish lackluster defending by the English team on the counter attack.
Fortunately for Mourinho and his charges, Swedish striker Ibrahimovic made sure his team take a comfortable three-goal advantage to France for the second leg after an improved second half showing.
In the other match, Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko also notched three goals as Roma dismissed Spanish side Villarreal 4-0.
Dzeko, who is now the competition’s leading goalscorer, struck three times in 23 second half minutes to lead the Italian Serie A team to a convincing first leg victory.
Villarreal now needs a minor miracle to overcome the four-goal deficit in Rome in the return leg.
Another surprising result came in Belgium, where London-based Tottenham Hotspur suffered a 1-0 defeat to Ghent.