Agencies

MANCHESTER          –      Former Europa League winners Manchester United booked a quarter-final spot in the tournament after their second-string side laboured to a 2-1 home win over LASK Linz to seal a 7-1 aggregate rout of the Austrian side.  United’s reward is a clash with FC Copenhagen in Cologne on Monday after the Danish side beat Istanbul Basaksehir 3-0 at home earlier on Wednesday to wipe out a 1-0 first-leg deficit. United, who won Europe’s second-tier club competition in 2017, appeared to be going through the motions and fell behind to a spectacular Philipp Wiesinger goal in the 55th minute before Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial replied.

Having been virtually assured of progress after a 5-0 win at LASK in March, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded a below-strength side at Old Trafford and they looked completely at sea for an hour. Solskjaer said the fringe players needed a run out to stay in shape for United’s trip to Germany, where the latter stages of the competiton will be played in a mini-tournament, as his side aim to end the season on a high note. “We learned that the players need to play to keep that sharpness,” the Norwegian told BT Sport. “Some of these lads haven’t played for a while and it showed. Some haven’t played since lockdown. For me, it was a good exercise. It’s job done, minutes under the belt and on to (face) Copenhagen.” The last eight will be played in four German cities as part of the mini-tournament, with the final on Aug. 21 in Cologne. 

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