Reds beat LASK 5-0 in Austria with January finishes shining again as undefeated streak extended to 11 games
Manchester United kept their Champions League dream on track with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Austrian club LASK in a match where their January signings shone.
Much has been said this week that the game is nothing without the fans, as matches around the world are postponed or played behind closed doors due to fears of coronavirus, and the 700 United fans who had bought tickets for the meeting of the last 16 matches of their team in the Europa League will agree as they missed another masterclass from Bruno Fernandes and, a little more surprising, Odion Ighalo in a comfortable team performance.
Some players need time to adjust to a new league and a new team. Not Fernandes. The playmaker integrated perfectly into Old Trafford and pulled the ropes again in Linz.
A nice knockout for Ighalo in his first game was Fernandes’ fourth assist for United in just nine games since joining the January transfer window. Many will likely forget it given the quality of the Ighalo finish, however.
It was a goal that deserved to be seen by a full stadium, a magical moment of the loaned striker, as he juggled the ball on the edge of the area before smashing it in front of Alexander Schlager to give the head to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. in the first half.
The Norwegian cheered on the canoe outside in the empty Linzer Stadion as he watched the fruit of his transfer transactions in January.
Ighalo’s performance in Linz once again showed the best of his ability with his solid holdup game and clinical finish giving United a much needed focal point, but it was the arrival of Fernandes who really gave hope to United in its push for Champions League football next season.
Not long ago, a return to the highest level of European football seemed far away, when United were struggling to chain a winning streak. But now, as they continue on an 11-game unbeaten streak – the longest in Solskjaer’s first weeks at the club – they look like an organized outfit that has more than one option at their disposal to get back to the top.
United should have been more than a goal at the break in Austria with Juan Mata eating his lines from the start while Fernandes’ perfect corner deliveries provided opportunities for Scott McTominay and Harry Maguiret. Solskjaer had made five changes to the team that beat Manchester City so convincingly in the derby on Sunday, but they still played with a cohesion that challenged the number of new faces on the team sheet.
Those who entered intensified and there were impressive performances all over the field. Eric Bailly, making his fourth start since his long injury stoppage, slipped next to Maguire while Brandon Williams seemed comfortable playing out of position in the back right. On paper, it should always have been an easy win for United, but it was an impressive display from Solskjaer’s side.
They doubled their lead after the break as Daniel James broke a 32-game drought with a composite finish in the bottom corner, with Ighalo this time providing assistance. The 30-year-old’s passing accuracy was perfect from start to finish and he brought an alternative option to the United front line.
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On a night when Fernandes impressed again, midfielder Fred made a point of reminding those watching that everything the new boy can do, he thinks he can do better because he has produced sublime help for Mata to conclude the game, and probably the tie, eight minutes from time.
United weren’t out there replacing Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood for the latter to shoot close to give United a four-goal cushion before Andreas Pereira tries his luck from a distance and defeats a Schlager desperate to score his first away goal for the club.
Tottenham awaits United on return to England as Solskjaer’s squad seeks to keep up pressure on top four in Premier League, but after convincing win under difficult circumstances they are more and more likely to have an alternative route to the first place in Europe in case of failure. to get the required league.