Manchester United beat FC Copenhagen 1-0 to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-final where they will face either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Sevilla. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side required extra time to get the victory in this match with the Danish side doing well. The goalkeeper has a magnificent game. Anthony Martial won a penalty in the 94th minute which Bruno Fernandes converted to win the game for United. It was a hot evening on Cologne and United will be pleased they are through.
Copenhagen started well in this quarter-final, pushing United and nearly breaking through a few times with United defending shoddily at times. United then started to get into the game, sending the ball into the Danish sides half, pushing to find an opener. It seemed strange at a point when the referee gave a penalty, seemingly for nothing, which turned into an offside. Towards the end of the half, Mason Greenwood found the back of the net, ricocheting off the far post and in but was ruled offside by VAR.
United scored a second goal in the game around 12 minutes into the second half. Greenwood fired goal wards hitting the post and rebounding only for Marcus Rashford to slot home but the flag was raised and United had a goal removed for the second time in the match. Solskjaer’s side will need to keep pushing for the victory, which is going to be a fight for them. It could be the best thing that happens though as it will be clear that United need some reinforcement this summer.
United had a few chances on goal as the Danish side seemed to tire late into the game. Bruno Fernandes struck the post with a sublime strike which saw him start to lead in the match. Copenhagen then started to push to get back into the game, pushing United into their own half and seeking to find a goal, which was not forthcoming. With about 16 minutes remaining, Rashford was down after a challenge, seemingly needing treatment but he was back on his feet in no time.
In the 85th minute of the game, Anthony Martial had the chance to get United ahead but saw his effort saved by Karl-Johan Johnsson after Brandon Williams spun the ball into the Frenchman. 25-yards out, Martial looked to fire his shot into the top-right corner with the Swede making a diving save to deny the United forward from breaking the deadlock. It seemed to be one of those matches for United, hitting the post and seeing efforts saved in this quarter-final match.
It ended 0-0 with extra time to decide the victor from this game. Copenhagen did well to defend against United with many not expecting the showing that they saw from the talented Danish side. They have a few players to keep an eye on; Victor Nelsson, a central defender and Jonas Wind, a forward – they both played well and with both being 21, have good futures ahead of them. Rasmus Falk played well too and seems to be a decent player but is 28. Johnsson, the goalkeeper was magnificent too.
Solskjaer made a third change with Juan Mata replacing Greenwood before extra time. Four minutes into the first 15 minutes of extra time, United won a penalty after Martial was taken out in the box. He firstly had the chance to score, then getting back into the box and was fouled. The referee gave the penalty with VAR giving it too. Fernandes took the spot kick, putting United 1-0 up at this late stage of the game. United now need to keep their heads and grind this result.
At the end of the first period of extra time, United were pushing to a second goal with Juan Mata having an effort and Victor Lindelof hitting the rebound. United seemed to find the energy to keep going despite making just tree substitutions in the game so far. Johnsson has been immense in goal for the Danish side and should keep his head held high after the performance he put in for his team. They were perhaps not too far behind United in the 90 minutes and should be proud of that.
Solskjaer made a fourth change in the 113th minute with Jesse Lingard replacing Rashford, still with United needing a second goal to close the game. United were still 1-0 up but with only one goal in it, an equaliser could have sent the game to penalties. With a matter of minutes remaining for United, the Danish side were pushing to get an equaliser, seemingly fighting to get involved and get forward. So far, United were doing all they needed to stay ahead.
United gave away a free-kick with just over a minute of extra time remaining, before stoppages. It was a nervy moment for United, who weathered the set-piece with Lingard running forward with the ball and deflecting the danger before losing the ball. Copenhagen then tried to get forward again, searching for the equaliser. United still did all they could to keep a clean sheet with one added minute of time at the end. Solskjaer made a fifth change with Scott McTominay replacing Martial.
Goals: Bruno Fernandes 95′ penalty
Manchester United: Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly (Lindelof 70′), Maguire, Williams; Fred (Matic 70′), Pogba; Greenwood (Mata 90′), Fernandes, Rashford (Lingard 113′); Martial (McTominay 120′)
Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Mengi; Pereira, James; Ighalo, Chong
Bookings: Harry Maguire 62′, Eric Bailly 63′; Mikkel Kaufmann 75′, Jens Stage 77′, Zeca 105+3′
Written by John Walker