Manchester United progressed to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday evening with a 2-1 victory against LASK at Old Trafford.
Having secured a comprehensive 5-0 win in the first-leg, it was always going to be tough for the Red Devils to motivate themselves for the match and it looked as though the visitors were going to secure a memorable victory with a stunning strike from Philipp Wiesinger. Jesse Lingard replied only minutes later but the hosts, albeit much-changed from usual, struggled to get going throughout the whole match. That was until substitute Anthony Martial stepped up in the final moments to roll home a winner.
Here are five things we learnt as United progress to the last-eight:
Red Devils fortunate in opening period
Despite having built up a surely insurmountable lead in the first-leg, the Red Devils could not afford to rest on their laurels. LASK were a threat from the off at Old Trafford and could well have found a couple of goals in the first-half.
Andrés Andrade arguably went the closest as his looping header bounced off of the Manchester United crossbar, with Wiesinger then fizzing an effort just wide. Solskjaer’s troops will surely have to tighten up if they have aspirations of potentially lifting the Europa League trophy come the end of the campaign. They can be backed at odds of 11/4 with 888Sport to do just that.
LASK of ideas from United
It would be fair to say then that LASK’s attacking football was the better of the two sides and considering the quality that the hosts displayed for large swaths, that really wasn’t hard. Manchester United rarely threatened throughout the first hour of the game, with their first shot on target not arriving until the 49th minute of the match.
With their first-choice attacking players on the bench, that is understandable but it really does show how reliant the Red Devils are on the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Martial.
Lingard playing for Old Trafford future?
Throughout the past campaign, there has been plenty of attention surrounding Jesse Lingard. A severe drop of from and productivity has seen his Manchester United future plunged into doubt. In fact, reports had suggested that the English winger would be on his way out of Old Trafford as soon as this summer.
A goal against Leicester on the final day, and then another in this game, a cool finish in front of the goalkeeper after being released by Juan Mata, has seen him earn back some much-needed confidence. His efforts did not end there though, he was full of effort and endeavor throughout the evening. Whilst still somewhat justifiably not first-choice with the Red Devils, more positive performances could see him get his United career back on track.
Wiesinger stunner a memorable European cracker
From the way that LASK man Wiesinger struck the opening goal of the game, you would have thought he’d been an experienced campaigner in Europe but far from it. The Austrian picked up the ball 25 yards from goal fired in a stunning right-footed curler that flew into the top corner. It was certainly a memorable way to notch his first European goal.
Having not conceded at Old Trafford in the Europa League so far this season, it might well be some consolation to Solskjaer that record was halted by something so majestic.
Despite the result on the night, credit really does have to go to LASK. Throughout the 90 minutes, they were probably the stronger of the two teams. The introductions of Martial and Paul Pogba really did see the tide turn, with the former scoring late on to condemn the visitors to a battling defeat at Old Trafford.
Manchester United: Romero (6); Williams (7) (Chong (6), 72’), Maguire (7), Bailly (6), Fosu-Mensah (6) (Mengi (N/A), 84′); Fred (6) (Pereira (6), 64’), McTominay (6); James (6) (Martial (N/A), 84′), Lingard (7) (Pogba (6), 63’), Mata (5), Ighalo (6).
LASK: Schlager (6); Andrade (7) (Filipovic (N/A), 80’), Trauner (6), Wiesinger (7) (Sabitzer (6), 73’); Renner (7), Michorl (6), Holland (6), Ranfti (6); Balic (6) (Reiter (6), 66’), Raguz (6), Frieser (7).
Goals: Wiesinger (55’), Lingard (57’), Martial (88′)
Referee: Anastasios Sidiropoulos
Yellow Cards: Michori (34’), McTominay (39’)
Red Cards: N/A