A Bruno Fernandes penalty in extra-time helped Manchester United edge out FC Copenhagen 1-0 at the RheinEnergieSTADION on Monday night to book a place in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Copenhagen goalkeeper, Karl-Johan Johnsson was brilliant between the sticks, making 13 saves and setting a new record in the Europa League.
He more or less kept Manchester United out single-handedly before Bruno Fernandes converted the penalty.
Manchester United will be now be waiting for the result of the Wolves and Sevilla game tonight to know about their opponents next Sunday.
So, here are the five things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen in the Europa League quarter-finals.
#1 Three semi-final appearances in Solskjaer’s first full season as Manchester United manager
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer completed his remit for the season by finishing third in the Premier League and qualifying for next season’s Champions League. But Solskjaer’s Manchester United side have also made a habit of going deep into cup competitions.
The English giants have made it to three semi-finals this season for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Solskjaer will hope that they do better than the League Cup semi-final and the FA Cup semi-final when Manchester United faltered against Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.
The Norwegian is eyeing winning his first trophy as Red Devils manager by lifting the Europa League in Cologne later this month.
#2 Anthony Martial gradually proving that Solskjaer was right to sell Romelu Lukaku last summer
Romelu Lukaku is a brilliant centre-forward and has netted 31 goals in all competitions for Inter Milan this season. But he was not the kind of striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to build his team around and the decision to sell him has worked out fine for all parties.
Solskjaer decided to hang his hat on Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford coming good, with the Frenchman taking up the number 9 role, and the former Monaco forward has responded brilliantly.
He has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season and against Copenhagen, on Monday night, he looked unplayable in some periods of the game. It was Karl-Johan Johnsson’s brilliance between the sticks that denied the 24-year-old a goal or two.
He won the penalty that turned out to be the decisive moment of the game in extra-time and Bruno Fernandes converted it to get the win for Manchester United.
#3 Marcus Rashford seems to be in desperate need of a break
The Manchester United forward has enjoyed his best season, scoring 22 goals in all competitions from the wide left area. He was in pristine form when he suffered a back injury in January and was set to miss the rest of the campaign.
The coronavirus-enforced break gave Marcus Rashford the time to recover and get back into the team when the campaign resumed in June. But since the restart, the 22-year-old has not looked at his best.
He has still netted three goals and the same number of assists but his form has been underwhelming. Rashford again looked over the boil against Copenhagen on Monday night.
He tried things that didn’t come off, some of his decision making has been iffy and he seemed to be a player who looks to be badly in need of rest.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trusts Rashford but he will feature in the semi-final on Sunday and even the final if Manchester United make it that far.
But no player in the Manchester United squad looks to be more in need of the break between the seasons than him at the moment.
#4 Fred will have to prove himself again at the start of next season
Fred has proven many of his detractors wrong this season and was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League before the campaign was suspended in March.
But since the restart, he has found game time hard to come. Paul Pogba has returned to the squad and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has preferred Nemanja Matic over the Brazilian in the middle of the park.
The games he has played in, the 27-year-old has looked unconvincing. Solskjaer started him against FC Copenhagen on Monday night and he failed to provide any control from the middle.
Fred struggled to impose himself against a side who were prepared to crowd the midfield area in order to close down the spaces for Manchester United.
Solskjaer eventually replaced him with Matic after 70 minutes in order to gain hold of the midfield and there was no doubt that Manchester United grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck after the Serbian came on the pitch.
The Brazilian will not be sold this summer unless something drastic happens but he is facing another start of the season where question marks remain over his real quality and whether he is the answer to Manchester United’s defensive midfield position.
#5 Bruno Fernandes shows no signs of stopping
Bruno Fernandes scored his 11th goal for Manchester United when he converted the penalty against FC Copenhagen in extra-time. But he could have easily scored a hat-trick on Monday night.
The Portuguese hit the inside of the post twice during normal time and hit the top of the bar with a header in the first half as well. The 25-year-old is showing no signs that his start at Manchester United was a flash in the pan.
His radar was a little off against Copenhagen and he misplaced a few chances to let other players in goal but he remained the creative heartbeat of the team.
Fernandes has scored an astounding 26 goals and provided 22 assists (half of them in Manchester United colours) in all competitions this season for Sporting Lisbon and the Red Devils.
He seems to be also attracting a lot of hatred from rival fans as well, which is a pre-requisite for any player who wants to be a Manchester United great.