United qualified as Group A runners-up and were paired with Christophe Galtier’s team, who defeated Anderlecht in their final Group C game to pip the Belgian club to top spot.
The tie means a potential meeting of the Pogba brothers – Paul, who joined United from Juventus in the summer for a world-record £93.2m fee, and Florentin Pogba, who is three years older than his illustrious sibling and has played for Saint‑Étienne, who are eighth in Ligue 1, for the past four years.
“That’s a nice thing. Paul was already laughing about it and for sure his brother is also laughing. It has happened a few times in the history football and it’s a nice thing,” said José Mourinho, the United manager. “Then the good thing is the travel distance. We were very unlucky in the group phase, we had to go very far, it was very difficult to go to Turkey, Ukraine.
“Now we go to France because the flight is easy and it’s not an easy period, there are lots of games, so that is good. Then Saint-Étienne is an historic old club with lots of tradition. People of my generation will never forget that [Michel] Platini team and it will be difficult because every team now is a good team in the competition.
“For sure, Manchester United is one of the big names in the competition but we have two months without the Europa League, two months to forget it, then we will see.”
Tottenham Hotspur were handed the short trip to Belgium to face the Group H runners-up Gent, who qualified by winning their final match against Konyaspor. Spurs dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group.
United and Spurs faced each other at Old Trafford at the weekend, with the hosts winning 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian was later taken off on a stretcher following a challenge from Danny Rose.
“Hopefully he can play at Christmas [Boxing Day],” Mourinho said. “When I saw the tackle on TV I was a bit scared. It’s a pity he misses matches in his best period.”
Europa League last 32
Manchester United v Saint-Étienne
AA Gent v Tottenham Hotspur
Athletic Bilbao v Apoel Nicosia
Legia Warsaw v Ajax
Anderlecht v Zenit St Petersburg
FC Astra Giurgiu v Genk
Villarreal v Roma
Ludogorets v FC Copenhagen
Celta Vigo v Shakhtar Donetsk
Olympiacos v Osmanlispor
Rostov v Sparta Prague
Krasnodar v Fenerbahce
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Fiorentina
AZ v Lyon
Hapoel Beer Sheva v Besiktas
PAOK Salonika v Schalke 04
Ties to be played on 16 and 23 February
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