Manchester United narrowly reached the semi-finals of the Europa League on Monday evening. The team of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer only settled in Cologne after extra time against FC Copenhagen: 1-0.
After ninety minutes, no goals had been scored in the RheinEnergieStadion, but United revealed the difference in quality in the extension. Bruno Fernandes used a penalty kick in the 95th minute and after that United did not really get into trouble again against the weary Copenhagen.
Manchester United remains in the race to win the Europa League for the second time, after ‘The Red Devils’ were too strong for Ajax in the 2017 final. To reach the final again, United must beat Wolverhampton Wanderers of Sevilla next week, who play against each other on Tuesday-evening.
The other game in the quarterfinals is between Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Basel. The winner will take on Internazionale in the semi-final battle, which was 2-1 too strong for coach Peter Bosz’s Bayer Leverkusen on Monday evening.
The Europa League will be completed in tournament form this month due to the corona crisis. All matches are played in Germany and the quarter-finals and semi-finals, like the final battle, are decided in one match.
FC Copenhagen only bowed their head for Manchester United after extra time. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Paal prevents multiple hits Manchester United
Surprisingly enough, in the first twenty minutes of the game, most of the threat came from Copenhagen, although great opportunities were missed. Former Ajax player and Copenhagen defender Nicolai Boilesen made a wrong move in one of the attacks and had to be replaced after sixteen minutes.
As the game progressed United got better into the game. Solskjaer’s team already had a few good chances and seemed to take the lead at the end of the first half. Mason Greenwood broke through on the right and fired in from an awkward angle through the inside of the post, but was offside.
At the start of the second half, United was again not happy. The only eighteen-year-old Greenwood hit the post again with a long shot and Marcus Rashford was offside several meters when he used the rebound. Ten minutes later, the post also got in the way when Fernandes attempted.
Stiff Copenhagen held on well and dragged out an extension, but United quickly took the lead. Anthony Martial first failed to score from close range, but was shortly afterwards brought down by former FC Twente defender Andreas Bjelland in the penalty area. Fernandes then hit the penalty flawlessly.
With that, all tension was gone from the game. The dominant United even had countless opportunities to extend the lead, but partly due to excellent goalkeeping work by Karl-Johan Johnsson (ex-NEC) and the post again it remained at 1-0.
Bruno Fernandes was once again worth gold for Manchester United. (Photo: Pro Shots)