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"After the stressful second leg at Old Trafford v Celta Vigo where United were almost knocked out cruelly in the last minute but for John Guidetti's ineptitude in front of goal, excitement began to set in. If the semi final of the Europa was unchartered territory for MUFC, the final in Stockholm would have had to represent the great unknown. Naturally, the Perth Manchester United Supporters Clubs and NOR Reds (made up of mostly former Manchester expats) began to plan the massive finals event at the Crown Casino on the banks of the Swan River in Perth.


Fast forward to the day of the final and I was excited but bloody nervous. United had stumbled to a 6th place finish in the league a few days earlier and of course, there was that horrific act committed by a truly evil human being at the Manchester Arena. This was an unexpected dimension that was added to the final in Stockholm. I cannot recall a final that United played in where my interest was not solely on them winning the trophy. This was a chance to give the people of Manchester some hope and lift spirits after such a tragic event. Incidentally, I had seen a status posted on social media from a good friend of mine the evening before. He is from the "blue" side of Manchester and he is also a proud Mancunian. His team for the final that night was United. It says it all when the football divide is put aside for the common good.


As it turns out, my plans to watch the match with the Perth MUFC Supporters Club at Crown were dashed when I picked up a spot of conjunctivitis the day before the match. This meant I would be watching the match from my bed at home and I was absolutely gutted. However, this would not stop me and I woke up at the crisp time of around 2.30am for the 2.45am kick off here in Perth. The nerves didn’t really set in until the first whistle was blown and from there the consequences became real. A win would give United a much desired return to Europe's big table, a sporting chance of signing the world's biggest stars, completing MUFC's trophy cabinet and more importantly, would give a big and much needed lift to the spirits of Mancunians everywhere. When Pogba's shot deflected into the back of the net in the 18th minute, I was incredibly happy for the moment until I realised that we'd need at least another goal given our defence's tendency to blank out at key moments and Ajax's dangerous wide players. However, when Mkhitaryan cleverly hooked a Smalling knock down into the roof of the Ajax net just after the restart, my celebrations could probably be heard at least three houses down in my street as well as grunts of pain as joyful tears came into my infected eye.


This was a crucial goal and one that arguably that had all but killed off any chance of an Ajax fight back. When the whistle finally sounded and the players received their winners medals and Rooney lifted the missing piece of our trophy cabinet on the dais, a few tears came into my eyes as I realised the impact that this win would have, not only on the players involved in the final, but on the people of Manchester (red and blue). Although I had only spent a mere four days in Manchester earlier this year, the Mancunians I had met were some of the nicest and most genuine people around and I got the sense that they would do anything for anyone. This Europa final win was an important victory overall. It was one of defiance and a triumph over adversity. Manchester will never be defeated."


@HaywoodRedDevil