Manchester United defeated FC Copenhagen 1-0 after extra time in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
The two teams came closer in the first half, Mohamed Daramy and Mason Greenwood being denied respectively by a bad touch and the offside flag.
After the break the game really opened up, with United dominating during a stretch in which they hit the woodwork twice – and Copenhagen threatening more than once at the break.
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It took more time for a goal to arrive, Bruno Fernandes scoring from the penalty spot after Anthony Martial’s foul.
Here are five things we learned from the match in Germany.
Against a team with a better offense, United would have struggled at half-time.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was the main culprit, but far from the only one, as United continually offered chances to attack or shoot from inside their third defensive end.
Mohamed Daramy should have scored at least one, while a handful of last-minute blocks and headers from Eric Bailly and Brandon Williams kept Copenhagen from having a tap-in more than once.
The best second-half opener came for Copenhagen as well, with Rasmus Falk’s skill opening a shooting chance which was closed by Bailly and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in turn.
United won’t be able to defend themselves in this relaxed way against wolves like Wolves, let alone Inter Milan, if they are to win the competition.
Apples the boss
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two changes to what you might call his most powerful free field roster for this game, keeping Fred and Eric Bailly in place against Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof.
Sergio Romero also continued in goal, having been his competition for the season, as such.
But when it comes to in-game changes, Solskjaer once again seemed devoid of ideas.
His first subs – and the only ones he pulled off in 90 minutes in rough conditions – simply changed the aforementioned quartet, making him a top 10 fielder, but certainly doesn’t affect the level. creativity with a new central defender and a holding midfielder.
We must ask ourselves whether the manager does not have enough confidence in the alternatives at his disposal, or, if this is not the case, why there was no alternative strategy: no change of training, no different staff, no real help for his team to find the breakthrough.
Greenwood inside and out
Mason Greenwood has had a spectacular few weeks in the Premier League after the restart, essentially earning his place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s XI thanks to some fantastic goals and well-rounded performances.
Lately, however, he’s been showing the inconsistencies of youth, perhaps: He’s struggling to stay involved in the game throughout the 90 minutes and has to be led by his coach on the sidelines for his runs off the ball.
But even so, when he found the ball, he remained a threat.
A right-footed strike found the bottom corner, only to be ruled out for offside, before a left-footed kick hit the post.
But beyond that, his impact on the game has been limited for long periods of time, one of the factors he will be looking to work on in 2020/21 and beyond.
The whole business model of Copenhagen is based on giving underrated actors with obvious qualities a stage to perform on, especially in Europe.
At least a few of those who have been impressed here, with Daramy, Falk, goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson and former United right-back Guillermo Varela are all noteworthy – but no more than center-back Victor Nelsson .
The 21-year-old Dane only joined last year from Nordsjaelland, but he was one of the first names on the squad roster all year and also made his entry into the squads of the national team for the first time.
Here he was phenomenal: a good read of the game, some air force, then a monstrous last-minute tackle on Anthony Martial to deny the forward a wonderful winner.
Seedlings and silverware
Inter Milan are also in the final four, but it will be the winners Wolves and Sevilla who will be the next challenge for United.
From the evidence from this game, there is no guarantee that United’s best position in the league means they will progress against their Premier League rivals, let alone a fit Sevilla.
A long season has not earned any silverware for United, despite now being their third semi-final of the campaign, and a third-place finish alone cannot be considered a success for the Red Devils.
It shouldn’t be seen that they were lucky here – Johnsson made at least three first class saves as the woodwork was hit twice – but the fact that they weren’t clinical and conceded so much odds on the other end, it’s a pair of weaknesses that can come at the highest level, against the better sides.
Another step forward has been taken, but a much bigger step will be needed if Solskjaer’s side are to finish 19/20 in lifting a trophy.