The players were lined up around the centre-circle already, but the period of remembrance was a curiously natural process. 50,000 voices from all over Europe suddenly stilled.
A couple of idiots tried to ruin things by shouting out obscenities. It merely highlighted the pathetic insignificance of an individual loser against the unified determination of the people.
When the call for silence belatedly came over the tannoy, Manchester had different ideas. United fans, joined quickly by their Ajax counterparts, went instead for applause. Followed by cheers. “Manchester! Manchester! Manchester!”
They were not here to mourn the lives – old but mainly young – that were lost at the Manchester Arena. That process will happen in far too many private tear-filled ceremonies around the region in the coming days.
Instead, they were here to celebrate Manchester, being Mancunian and all that involves. United’s participation in last night’s final had merely given them a world stage on which to do so.
Football fans united to show their support for the victims of the Manchester attack
Sadly, the club itself is no stranger to tragedy and the appalling Munich air crash in 1958 remains as relevant in the hearts of fans today as it ever has.
Regular banners draped at Old Trafford and wherever the club travel convey that reverence, but sentiments such as “Forever and ever” and “We’ll never die” had added poignancy last night.
Outside the stadium, fans had continued their usual pre-match libations under a banner of “United Against Terrorism – Lest We Forget.” The unspoken horrors of what happened on Monday night were still fresh in the minds, but this was people going about their lives and – why not? – enjoying themselves.
Around the city, sporadic chanting had been heard all day from various pockets of Stockholm’s 17 islands littered across the sparkling blue water of Lake Malaren and the Baltic Sea.
Events like the Manchester Arena bombing do change things, however. In an unforeseen way, the ghastly context of this game actually helped ease the mood.
Both sets of fans were chanting "Manchester!" to show their support
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Around the bars and squares there was an amiable confidence among locals and rival supporters that nobody would be crass enough to over-step the mark and cause any trouble.
So it was that, as those with tickets strolled shoulder-to-shoulder up to the giant ark of a stadium, this finally began to feel like a proper European final.
A fan in the crowd of the Friends Arena was interviewed on the giant screen and summed up the sentiments of many: “It’s not about winning, tonight it is all about Manchester.”
But for all that Peter Bosz said so touchingly on the eve of the game about the final having lost its “glow”, there was little sign of it inside.
Manchester United fans understandably took their time to find their voice, tentative as they took their seats opposite Dutch fans who had been in place for up to two hours before kick-off.
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Sergio Romero – 7.2
But by the time the fans with that anti-terrorist banner had draped it behind the goal alongside others bearing messages urging people to “pray for Manchester”, both sets of supporters were in full voice.
During the build-up, United boss Jose Mourinho had been interviewed on television. “It is our job – we are ready for it,” he’s said. “Not with the same happiness a great moment like this normally brings. But from a professional point of view we are ready.”
In place of happiness, though, was determination. Plus pride and responsibility.
The second half was barely underway when Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s flick took care of the satisfying detail of actually winning the cup. However, from the first whistle, United had understood that the important thing was that they had to mean it.
Consequently, they looked engaged, energetic and, most of all, united. They seemed determined not to let Manchester down with their commitment or desire.
Manchester United did their part to make their city proud
It was a lucky deflection off Davinson Sanchez, for instance, that gave United their early break, a goal that Paul Pogba claimed nevertheless.
He may be the world’s most expensive footballer but that did not stop his father being taken away from him two weeks ago after a long life.
Too often we accuse footballers of being overpaid and living in a bubble; of being detached from the real world. One thing, though, unites us all as human beings – hopefully compassionate ones.
When Pogba looked heavenwards and pointed to the sky, Fassou Antoine Pogba was foremost on his mind.
However, those other poor souls which had been lost over the preceding 48 hours will undoubtedly have been up there in his thoughts too.
Last night, Pogba and the collection of players from all over the world who have found a home in Manchester, did them and the rest of the city proud.