MANCHESTER, England (Associated Press)—Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored an acrobatic back flick to wrap up Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Sunderland in the English Premier League on Monday, ensuring a miserable return to Old Trafford for former United manager David Moyes.
On as a second-half substitute, Mkhitaryan met Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s right-wing cross with a flicked finish with the heel of his right foot that flew into the corner in the 86th minute.
Mkhitaryan was in an offside position but it didn’t stop home fans at Old Trafford saluting a player who is growing in importance in his first season at United.
Ibrahimovic also set up the opening goal for Daley Blind in the 39th before scoring his 16th goal of the season in the 82nd after being played through by Paul Pogba.
Sunderland’s consolation was scored by Fabio Borini in stoppage time.
It was Moyes’ first game at Old Trafford since he was fired by United in April 2014, 10 months into his ill-fated tenure as Alex Ferguson’s hand-picked replacement.
United has won its last four league games to power back into contention for the Champions League qualification places.
According to Manchester United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan described his brilliant backheeled effort against Sunderland as “the best goal I’ve ever scored,” while speaking to MUTV after Manchester United’s 3-1 win.
The Armenian’s inspired finish from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s right-wing cross gave visiting goalkeeper Jordan Pickford little chance of making a save in front of the Stretford End. The goal put the Reds 3-0 up at Old Trafford, before Fabio Borini pulled back a late consolation for the Black Cats.
“That was the best goal I’ve ever scored,” Mkhitaryan said. “I was very excited. The first thing I did was look at the assistant and I saw it was not ruled as offside so I just started to celebrate.
“I was expecting the ball to be in front of me and then I realized I was in front of it. As the ball was behind me, the only thing I could do was a backheel so I did that and I succeeded.”
Mkhitaryan’s entrance as a 61st-minute replacement for Jesse Lingard marked his return to action after a two-match absence through injury. The Armenian insists he is now fit and ready to play his part as United bid for a fifth Premier League win in a row, at home to Middlesbrough on New Year’s Eve.
“I don’t have anything of concern from a past injury so I’m happy to be back and I’m happy to be back to help the team,” Mkhitaryan explained. “I will try to do my best for the next game. It’s very important that we’re in good shape and to keep going like this.”
Mkhitaryan’s goal can be watched in the video below.