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LASK 0-5 Manchester United: Red Devils all but through to quarter-finals

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Manchester United look destined for the Europa League quarter-finals after cruising to a resounding 5-0 victory over LASK in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Linz on Thursday.

In a match that was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, Odion Ighalo used his third start for United to take his tally for the club to four with a stunning effort in the 28th minute.

Ighalo then set up James to score his first goal since August, ending a run of 32 games and 2,527 minutes without hitting the back of the net in all competitions, before Juan Mata slid home a lovely pass from Fred.

Substitute duo Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira struck within the space of 85 seconds in stoppage time to cap an impressive victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who are now 11 unbeaten in all competitions.

United went close in the 18th minute when Alexander Schlager palmed Luke Shaw’s cross to Mata, and his effort from 12 yards was deflected narrowly wide by Reinhold Ranftl.

Solskjaer’s men found the breakthrough when Ighalo juggled Bruno Fernandes’ outside-of-the-boot pass and unleashed a sublime effort that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

The Red Devils extended their lead 13 minutes after the restart. James was played in by Ighalo and he cut inside Gernot Trauner before picking out the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.

The upright denied Ighalo a second but United had a third when Fred’s excellent throughball cut the LASK defence open and Mata added the finishing touch.

Greenwood replaced Ighalo in the 85th minute and needed only six minutes before he fired a pass from fellow substitute Tahith Chong in off both posts.

A speculative 25-yard effort from Pereira then caught Schlager by surprise, evading the LASK keeper’s grasp to find the back of the net as United clinched a resounding triumph.

What does it mean? Ighalo gamble paying off

United’s deadline-day signing of Ighalo was initially mocked, but the former Watford striker is undoubtedly delivering for Solskjaer.

He finished the game with a goal and an assist and could well be in the frame for more minutes in the Premier League with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial out injured.

Fernandes on fire

A lovely pass was lashed home by Ighalo to give Fernandes his fourth assist – and seventh goal involvement – in nine appearances for United. In total, the Portugal international created an impressive six chances against LASK.

Gernot that good

LASK captain Trauner was deployed in the middle of a back three and won just 27.3 per cent of his duels. He provided minimal resistance when James fired in the second and was outmuscled by Ighalo before he hit the post.

Key Opta facts:

– This was United’s biggest away win in European competition since beating Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 in the Champions League group stages in November 2013.

– LASK had won all four of their home Europa League games this season before Thursday. This was their first defeat at home in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) since September 1999 in the UEFA Cup (3-2 against Steaua Bucharest).

– United have kept 12 clean sheets in their 18 games in all competitions so far in 2020, at least four more than any other Premier League side.

– The Red Devils have had 12 different goalscorers in the Europa League this season, more than any other side in the competition (excluding own goals).

– Greenwood scored his fifth Europa League goal of the season – he is the first teenager to net as many as five goals in a single European campaign for United.

What’s next?

United go up against their former manager Jose Mourinho and Tottenham in north London on Sunday, while LASK are not in action until the second leg with the next two rounds of the Austrian Bundesliga suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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