Juan Mata put in a sensational shift as Manchester United comfortably cruised through to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League.

Manchester United hosted Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub at Old Trafford on Wednesday in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie in the UEFA Europa League. They already had a five-goal cushion and had little to worry about. Consequently, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to field his second string with the exception of captain Harry Maguire.

The game was slow from the get-go, as neither team created any real chances in the first half. LASK were not afraid to test Sergio Romero and attempted several shots from outside the box, unable to penetrate United’s defense. Only one of them was on target, though. The first 45 ended with just that one shot on goal from both sides.

The second half was much quicker. Both teams seemed to attack with intent, and it finally paid off with a cracker of a goal in the 55th minute from Philipp Wiesinger from outside the box, finessing the ball into the top corner from the half volley. LASK’s lead was cut down to nil soon after as Jesse Lingard was played through on goal and did not make any mistakes finishing for the equaliser.

With no more than two minutes of regulation time left, Anthony Martial combined with Juan Mata and scored the winner, as Manchester United progressed through to the quarter-finals courtesy an aggregate scoreline of 7-1. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Solskjaer’s men.

Sergio Romero: 6/10

There was no real danger posed to Sergio Romero’s goal, with LASK hitting 2 of their 3 total attempts right at him. It was always going to take something special to beat the Argentine and boy did the Austrian outfit come through. Apart from Philipp Wiesinger’s strike, he ended the game with an 80.5% passing accuracy, completing five long balls.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah: 6/10

Fosu-Mensah does a lot of things well; however, attacking is not one of them. He replaced Aaron Wan-Bissaka as the right-back in the four-man back-line but did not have a whole lot to do. He did, however, win 6 of his 8 ground duels and completed all 3 of his attempted dribbles. He will have to do a lot more, though, if he wants to replace any one of the ful-lbacks in this team.

Eric Bailly: 7.5/10

Eric Bailly was paired alongside Harry Maguire at the heart of the Manchester United defense and fared better off in the game. He completed 7 of his 13 long balls and made sure to hold off an in-form Marko Raguz. He was quick to react in all situations, covering his fair share of the pitch tracking down wingers and chasing loose balls as he so often does.

Harry Maguire: 6/10

Captain and confidant Harry Maguire was the only first-team player in the starting XI for Manchester United against LASK. This was his 59th game of the season, and his exhaustion was evident. The Englishman seemed slower than usual and was not at the peak of his mental strength either, continually losing concentration.

Tired. Fatigued. Exhausted. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Tired. Fatigued. Exhausted. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

He was quite involved in the attack, though, and came close to scoring through a corner, only to see his header go on the wrong side of the post. Additionally, he was also responsible for messing up two attacks for United, once where he unwisely tried to play a backheel pass to Tahith Chong, only to see it reach the opposition. A game to forget.

Brandon Williams: 6.5/10

Playing against two sets of wingers, Brandon Williams did a great job in holding back LASK from their right side but failed to contribute a lot in attack. He completed only 2 of his 6 attempted long passes and none of his 3 attempted crosses. Moreover, he completed none out of 3 dribbles either.

Scott McTominay: 6/10

After a rather horrendous first half, Scott McTominay was able to steady the ship in the second 45, or it could have been a lot worse for him. He gave away possession cheaply 25 times, won only 8 of his 20 ground duels and was dribbled past thrice. The Scot also cost United two set-pieces in dangerous areas courtesy of untimely tackles, consequently receiving a caution.

Fred: 8.5/10

Fred was the better half of the double pivot, doing everything from attack to defense. He completed 86.7% of his passes, of which 11 were long passes (100% accuracy). Additionally, he played 1 key pass and completed his only dribble attempt in the game. The 27-year-old did not take too much time on the ball at any given moment and was quick to release the forwards with any chance he got.

Fred the red. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Fred the red. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Another day, another top-notch outing for Fred. The only reason the Brazilian has not been able to become a mainstay in this Manchester United team is because of Nemanja Matic’s brilliant resurgence this season.

Daniel James: 5.5/10

In his 84 minutes on the pitch, Daniel James attempted only 20 passes, completing only 16. None of his crosses went past the first defender and all his dribble attempts were easily blocked out. He took no more than 31 touches of the ball and managed to lose possession 11 times. An appalling display from the Welshman, who could be replaced with ease next season.

Juan Mata: 9/10

The man of the match on Wednesday, Juan Mata was back to his brilliant best against LASK. The Spaniard started the game slowly, delaying a vital pass which would have helped United take the lead early in the game. Apart from that, however, it was a flawless display from Mata.

He was the assist provider for both the goals, first setting up Lingard through on goal with a sublime through ball, and then for Anthony Martial after a brilliant combination play. Apart from this, Mata played 2 additional key passes, won 3 fouls and completed 4 of his 6 attempted dribbles. There seems to be little doubt over his inclusion in the next round of fixtures.

Jesse Lingard: 7/10

After a goal against Leicester City on the final day of the Premier League season, Jesse Lingard displayed much more confidence on and off the ball on Thursday. He played 1 key pass and completed 3 of his 5 dribbles.

Lingard was also able to pull the opposition defenders out of position and help Fred and Mata work their magic. The best moment of his hour-long display came in the 58th minute when he scored Manchester United’s equaliser after a great off-the-ball run.

Odion Ighalo: 7.5/10

Odion Ighalo seems to be Manchester United’s main man in this competition now and completed another excellent performance against LASK. He consistently made intelligent runs in and around the box but could not be picked out courtesy of the lack of an accurate passer in the XI on Thursday.

The 31-year-old helped pull the strings from deep, which helped send Lingard through on goal several times. Ighalo seems to have the backup role taken care of for the Red Devils and should be pursued as a permanent deal by the club.


Paul Pogba: 7/10

Pogba was brought on to bring some additional composure to the Manchester United midfield and, if need be, push the team for the winner. He did both of those things, setting up a Martial goal through a pressure splitting long pass to Mata. He won 4/4 of his ground duels, made 3 successful tackles and won a foul as well.

Andreas Pereira: 7/10

Pereira replaced Fred and slotted in as the attacking midfielder. He played 1 key pass in his time on the pitch yesterday and completed more dribbles (4/5) in the thirty minutes than Daniel James attempted in 85 odd minutes.

Tahith Chong: 7/10

100% dribbles completed (1/1), 100% accurate long passes (1/1), 100% ground duels won (5/5) and 100% aerial duels won (1/1). It was undoubtedly a perfect display by Chong, who injected a lot of pace in the team in his little time on the pitch, playing in a position he never has in his career – left-back. But, it may have been enough to impress Ole to give him more minutes in the next game.

Anthony Martial: 8/10

Martial came on with less than ten minutes of regulation time left to play. However, one minute in, he helped United take the lead, combing with Mata and then silkily going past the defenders, before nutmegging the goalkeeper, almost as if to say to his teammates, “Are others not capable of doing what I do?” A man in form.

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