Talking Points: United 1 FC Copenhagen 0
Manchester United progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League thanks to a 1-0 victory over FC Copenhagen in Cologne.
After an energy-sapping 120 minutes in Germany there’s plenty to discuss. If you missed any of the action, we’ve rounded up some of the main points of interest from a victorious night for Ole's men...
ALL EYES ON DUISBURG
With the Reds booking a place in the semi-finals, our supporters and players can sit back and watch tomorrow night’s meeting between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sevilla in relative peace. United know we’ll face the winners of that tie in Sunday’s semi-final in Cologne. Remarkably, a clash with Wolves would be our fifth match against Nuno Espirito Santo’s men this season - and our fourth cup encounter in 18 months. Meanwhile, we last locked horns with Sevilla in 2017/18 when the Spaniards eliminated United from the Champions League in the last-16 stage. Thankfully, whoever the Reds face in the semi-finals, we’ll have an extra 24 hours rest ahead of our opponents.
Captured in Cologne gallery
These are the must-see photos from United's Europa League quarter-final win over FC Copenhagen.
At this stage of a European competition only top-level sides are left, and this year is no exception. Copenhagen showed their class on Monday night, both on the front foot and at the back, and forced the Reds into extra-time in Germany. Incidentally, the last time we qualified for the last four of the tournament it also came via extra-time. That 2017 triumph was delivered courtesy of Marcus Rashford, who netted the decisive goal against Anderlecht in the 107th minute at Old Trafford.
United struggled to break down a well-organised back four during 90 minutes and Solskjaer knew we needed a little added touch of creativity in extra-time. Enter, Juan Mata. Almost instantly after his introduction, the Spaniard drove forward and linked the midfield and attack. Seconds later, the ball landed at his feet and Juan knocked it into Anthony Martial who was felled in the box. What an entrance! The 32-year-old’s enthusiasm and positivity was infectious and his superb performance helped inspire the Reds to our extra-time victory.
It was a disappointing first half for Ole’s men, who failed to play at our free-flowing best in the opening 45 minutes. However, just before the interval, the Reds seemed to have broken the deadlock via Mason Greenwood’s excellent right-footed finish. Few players look so comfortable on their weaker foot than Mason when he’s bearing down on goal and again that proved to be the case when he lashed the ball past Copenhagen keeper Karl-Johan Johnsson.
Yet, to the dismay of all those in Red, the goal was rightly disallowed for offside after a VAR check. While a frustrating moment for United, it again showed Mason’s composure and skill to tuck home a difficult chance after a quiet first half. Our no.26 also played a part in our disallowed goal in the second period when his shot came off the post and was subsequently tucked away by an offside Marcus Rashford.
UNLUCKY 13 FOR COPENHAGEN
On another night it could have been a much more comfortable win for United after we registered 26 shots and 14 on target. It was only the brilliance of Copenhagen goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson that kept the scoreline down. The Swede made 13 saves in the quarter-final which is actually the most in a single Europa League game since 2009.
PULLING THE STRINGS
By his own standards, Bruno Fernandes’s first half wasn’t quite at the levels we’ve become used to this season. But the Portuguese midfielder began flexing his muscles after the break. Bruno tested Johnsson with several shots and even hit the post on 63 minutes. Our no.18 was also the Reds’ most-creative outlet and he regularly slipped passes into Rashford, Greenwood and Martial, often through the most minuscule of gaps between the Copenhagen defenders. And when the game's decisive moment presented itself in extra-time, as usual, Bruno was ice cold from the penalty spot.
Reds all over the world are using the hashtag to rep our new kit as we seek a place in the Europa League semi-finals.
In making it to the last four of the Europa League, United have now reached the semi-finals of every cup competition the club has entered in 2019/20. Previously we made it to the penultimate round of the Carabao Cup, before we were eliminated over two legs by Manchester City. Our other semi-final appearance in 2019/20 came in the Emirates FA Cup when we lost 3-1 to Chelsea at Wembley. Hopefully, it will be third time lucky and Ole’s men can finish the season by playing in a final on Friday 21 August.
Get behind the team as the Reds go marching on! Our new adidas home kit for 2020/21 is on sale now.