Manchester United had an easy job to finish off their UEFA Europa League round of 16 matchup against LASK, following a 5-0 win in the first leg. And the return game brought exactly what was both expected and necessary. Man United won 2-1, after going behind, but goals from Jesse Lingard and his replacement Anthony Martial give the Devils another win ahead of the quarterfinals.
There, Manchester United will face Kobenhavn, as the Danes got the better off Basaksehir Istanbul with a 3-0 win in the second leg. That match will be played on 10 August and if the Devils manage to get their place in the semifinal, there they will face either Wolverhampton or Europa League specialists Sevilla.
Solskjaer Changes Say A Lot
As it was expected, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to make a lot of changes in the starting XI. It was only Harry Maguire who started from those players regularly in the starting lineup, with Eric Bailly as his partner. Sergio Romero was in goal, whilst their chance also got Scott McTomminay, Fred, Fosu-Mensah, Juan Mata, Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard. And it really showed. This was a good reminder of what a difference there is between the usual starters and those who are mostly starting matches on the bench.
Man United were not that good for the most part of the match. That is not surprising, considering the changes they have made and that there was no imperative to crush the opponent.
James’ Poor Form Continues
One of the players that was particularly below standard was Daniel James. The Welsh winger this time started on the left flank, rather than the right, because this time there was no Marcus Rashford nor Anthony Martial in the team. That is his preferred position, but James was anonymous. One comment on the Internet even suggested ‘James was singlehandedly raising the asking price for Jadon Sancho’ with his performance.
Whilst that would be too harsh to say, James’ lack of ability to positively influence the match in the final third was showing.
Mata-Lingard Swapped Positions For A Reason
Jesse Lingard started the match as the attacking midfielder and Juan Mata started on the right wing. Unsurprisingly, that did not work out well. Mata was slow and unable to be a threat in wide ares and Lingard’s qualities in possession were never that great. At half-time, they swapped their positions and both players improved.
Mata was able to pick his passes and Lingard’s movements made more sense on the wing. Lingard also scored the equaliser, which will be good news for his confidence.
Man United Make Interesting Substitutions
There were some interesting substitutions Solskjaer made. Not many have expected to see Paul Pogba enter the pitch after 62 minutes, but he drastically improved the way Man United’s midfield operated. Teden Mengi, the 18-year-old academy graduate, got his chance late on to replace Timothy Fosu-Mensah, while it was Tahith Chong who got the job to feature at left-back when he came on for Brandon Williams. Also, getting Anthony Martial to enter after 84 minutes of play was disappointing for Lingard, but the Frenchman was soon there to snatch the win for the Devils.