Manchester United took a huge step towards the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a 5-0 win against LASK in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
The game was played to a nearly empty stadium due to concerns about the coronavirus, but the bizarre circumstances did not impact United as Odion Ighalo put them ahead in the 28th minute.
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LASK had a small spell either side of half-time when they troubled United, but Daniel James' (58) first goal in 32 games quelled any resurgence before Juan Mata (82) slotted home the third.
But the visitors were not done there. Substitutes Mason Greenwood (90+2) and Andreas Pereira (90+3) scored within seconds of one another in added time to compound LASK's misery and essentially seal United's path to the quarter-finals with the second leg to come at Old Trafford next Thursday.
United are unbeaten in 11 games and have conceded only twice in that run, as well as registering a second successive 5-0 win in the Europa League.
How Man Utd thrashed LASK
It was a quiet start both on the field and in the stands, but once United found their rhythm, they really tested LASK.
Mata went close in the 19th minute, attempting to turn home a Luke Shaw cross which had been pushed into his path by goalkeeper Alexander Schlager. However, Gernot Trauner was there to see it behind for a corner. Schlager made another sensational save not long after, getting down low to push away a James shot.
Just before the 30-minute mark and United took a deserved lead. Bruno Fernandes made a driving run to the top of the area before chipping the ball into Ighalo's path. The striker took three keepy up touches to set up his shot before firing home via the underside of the crossbar for his second successive Europa League goal.
LASK: Schlager (6), Ramsebner (5), Trauner (6), Ranftl (5), Reiter (7), Holland (6), Michorl (7), Renner (6), Tetteh (5), Frieser (7), Klauss (6).
Subs used: Raguz (4), Balic (4), Haudum (4).
Man Utd: Romero (5), Williams (7), Bailly (7), Maguire (7), Shaw (7), Fred (8), McTominay (7), Mata (8), Fernandes (8), James (7), Ighalo (8).
Subs used: Chong (7), Pereira (6), Greenwood (6).
Man of the match: Odion Ighalo.
LASK grew into the game in the final ten minutes of the first half. Dominik Reitner fired a cross into the area after Harry Maguire had cleared an initial throw-in. It was the United captain who headed the cross on too, landing at the feet of Dominik Friser on the left of the area. He struck well, but Eric Bailly was there to stick a foot out and send it - fortunately - behind for a corner.
LASK continued their decent spell as the second half got under way, but it was United who struck again in the 58th minute. Ighalo nabbed an assist for the evening as he slotted James through from midfield and it was then a superb solo run from the Wales international. He drove into the area, dinking around Trauner at the top, before hammering home into the bottom corner to break his 32-game scoring drought.
- LASK made four changes from their Austrian Bundesliga game on Sunday. Petar Filipovic, Philipp Wiesinger, Stefan Haudum and Thomas Goiginger all dropped out for Peter Michol, James Holland, Reinhold Ranftl and Dominik Frieser.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also made five changes. Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Juan Mata, Scott McTominay and Odion Ighalo came into the side for David de Gea, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial.
It looked to be just the two goals for a free-scoring United in Austria, but there were three more to come in the final 11 minutes. The first was from Mata, who set off the move himself as he played a superb give and go with Fred. The Brazilian slotted a sensational ball forward for his team-mate, who then easily swept home past Schlager.
It was the substitutes who added the final two goals in three minutes of added time. Tahith Chong pinged the ball into the path of Greenwood, who burst into the area with acres of space to shoot, sending the ball around the back of the goalkeeper, off the post and into the back of the net.
Pereira followed just seconds late as United won a late free-kick. He took it quick and short to the waiting Fred, receiving the ball back before looping the ball over everyone and into the back of the net to seal another wonderful United performance.
What the manager said...
Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "The boys were fantastic. I think they deserve a lot of credit and praise for the way they went about the job. There was loads of quality in our finishing, some fantastic goals and some
football we should be proud of.
"It was easy (to keep the team focused) because these players are very focused. They know what they want, so there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to do well.
"After the warm-up, Michael (Carrick) and Kieran (McKenna) came to me and said that the boys were really, really good in the warm-up. Focused. I have to praise them, they are very professional."
Man of the match - Odion Ighalo
There could have been five or six players chosen for this particular award - Fernandes shone once again, Fred and Mata were superb and Maguire spearheaded a resolute United defence.
But Ighalo - starting in his second successive Europa League game - showed some sensational skill and a fine finish for his goal, and his pass for James' strike was nothing short of genius. He should have added a second when he hit the post, but the Nigeria international is finally showing why United wanted him.
Even though Anthony Martial is a doubt for Sunday's game against Tottenham, live on Sky Sports, Ighalo would surely give him a run for his money after another eye-catching performance.
Analysis: United form a credit to the manager
Sky Sports pundit Clinton Morrison:
"It's comfortable now for Man United, going into the second leg at Old Trafford 5-0 up and you can play the players who haven't been playing a lot of football, even the main man Paul Pogba might be back for the second leg.
"Even if the home fans were there, United were too strong, they were dominant, they were on the front foot and you can see that this team are playing with a lot of confidence at the moments. It's credit to the manager because people are too quick to say these days that they want to get rid of managers, but United have stuck with him. I can slowly but surely see United have turned a corner and hopefully there are good times for them.
"LASK will have the second leg and get to play at Old Trafford, which will be a big event for them and you could see at the end of the game, they were happy and changing shirts and they knew it was always going to be an uphill task to try and beat United."
- This was Manchester United's biggest away win in European competition since beating Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 in the Champions League group stages in November 2013.
- Odion Ighalo has scored in all three of his starts in all competitions for Manchester United (4 goals); the first player to score in his first three starts for the club since Romelu Lukaku.
- Daniel James scored his first goal for Manchester United since August 31st 2019, ending a run of 32 games and 2527 minutes without scoring in all competitions.
- Mason Greenwood scored his fifth Europa League goal of the season - he's the first teenager to net as many as five goals in a single European campaign for Manchester United.
Manchester United will be live on Sky Sports this weekend, travelling to Tottenham on Super Sunday (kick off 4.30pm). They will then welcome LASK to Old Trafford for the return leg next Thursday (8pm). LASK's league games have been postponed, so will next be in action in a week's time in the Europa League.