Who are LASK? Manchester United face Austrian side in Europa League

First leg will take place behind closed doors on Thursday March 12, with the second-leg tie to follow a week later on Thursday March 19

LASK celebrate a goal in their Europa League last-32 second-leg against AZ Alkmaar
Image: LASK are into the Europa League last-16 for the first time

Manchester United face LASK behind closed doors in the Europa League last-16 on Thursday - but who are they? We profile the Austrian league leaders.

In terms of UEFA ranking, United could not have got a better result when the teams were drawn out of the hat for the next round of Europa League action last month.

LASK, who have never reached this stage of a European competition, are ranked 103rd by UEFA with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side 93 places ahead of them in placings.

  • LASK UEFA ranking: 103
  • Domestic position: 1st in Austrian Bundesliga
  • How they got here: Group D winners, beat AZ Alkmaar 3-1 on aggregate in last 32
  • Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: Round of 32 (1984/85, 1985/86)

Runners-up to Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga last season, LASK are partaking in a UEFA competition for the second season running - although they lost in the Europa League qualifiers last time around - having previously missed out on Europe since 2000 after a poor run that saw them relegated to the second tier.

The club won promotion back to the Bundesliga in 2017 and have become a major domestic force, powering to the top of the league this season under manager Valerien Ismael, who had spells at Nurnberg and Wolfsburg before moving to Austria.

That winning mentality has transferred itself to their European exploits as - after losing to Club Brugge in the Champions League play-off round - they finished top of Group D in the Europa League group stages, finishing above PSV Eindhoven and Sporting Lisbon with an impressive feat of beating the two European giants at home by an aggregate score of 7-1.

In the last 32, they overcame AZ Alkmaar 3-1 on aggregate over two legs.

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The first leg will take place on Thursday March 12, with the second-leg ties following a week later on Thursday March 19.

Why is the first leg being played behind closed doors?

Odion Ighalo celebrates with Manchester United team-mates after scoring against Derby

The decision has been taken to play the game behind closed doors due to concerns around coronovirus.

The Austrian Interior Minister has said the country was banning outdoor events of more than 500 people.

Austrian Bundesliga chairman Christian Ebenbauer said: "Of course we all prefer to watch atmospheric games with many spectators, but we are experiencing an exceptional situation across the country.

"We fully trust the experts responsible and of course implement the measures to protect the population. Like other organisers, these measures are associated with massive organisational and financial challenges for us and our clubs."

Elsewhere, Chelsea, Wolves and Rangers are also set to play their upcoming European away games against Bayern Munich, Olympiakos and Bayer Leverkusen respectively behind closed doors.

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