Ighalo 8/10 as Man United front man continues goal-scoring form in comfortable win at LASK
Manchester United have all but confirmed their spot in the quarterfinals of the Europa League after crushing LASK Linz 5-0 in a behind-closed-doors round-of-16 first leg in Austria on Thursday.
Odion Ighalo's first-half rocket earned United a one-goal lead by half-time before Daniel James ended his goal drought with a fine individual effort on the hour mark. Three late goals by Juan Mata and substitutes Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira confirmed the devastating score line.
Ighalo continues to impress up front and now has four goals in seven appearances since signing for the club in January. But Bruno Fernandes' impact on the game with his calm, patient and well-measured playmaking proved too much for a troubled LASK side.
Very tricky to pick out the negatives in United's performance, they controlled the game from start to finish. Perhaps suffered from a slight lull at the start of the second half, when they were exploited in midfield, but generally a fine display.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- The result will no doubt inject some more confidence into the United dressing room, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did little wrong tactically. Didn't have to make many changes in truth, the squad was dialed in and adjusted well to the unique atmosphere of this tie.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 6 -- Little to rant about in this one. LASK offered very little in terms of their attacking threat and struggled to beat United's heavy press. No major saves of note and his distribution was fine.
DF Brandon Williams, 7 -- Continues to prove himself as a capable defender and gave the home side very little margin for error because of his strong pace and relentless work rate. Still developing and evidently an exciting prospect.
DF Eric Bailly, 7 -- Made a vital block in the first half to potentially deny LASK an equaliserl. Possessed great pace, too, to dampen the threat of the hosts when they did press forward on the rare occasion.
DF Harry Maguire, 7 -- Will be disappointed to not have a goal to his name after glancing a header agonisingly wide in the first half. Otherwise, a fine captain's performance that was measured and patient against a hard-pressed LASK squad.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Drove forward to try to get himself into the dangerous areas that United fans have become so used to him doing. Played with his usual great work ethic, though picked up a yellow card for a clumsy challenge.
MF Fred, 8 -- Strong in possession and was often there to break up play and act as an important figure between the visitors' defensive line and those making forward runs. Provided an excellent through ball to Mata to set up United's third goal.
MF Scott McTominay, 6 -- Not his best game, and certainly didn't impact United's attack as fans know he can do. But, McTominay supported the visitors' attacking players well, he just lacked an assist or shot on target of his own.
MF Juan Mata, 7 -- Got into great pockets of space to open up play for United, but maybe didn't make the most of the opportunities he had in the first half. Got himself on the scoresheet in the second after an excellent through ball from Fred.
MF Bruno Fernandes, 9 -- Possessed a fantastic ability to be patient in possession and pick out devastating passes, he consequently deserved his first-half assist. Was consistent with his crosses too and a constant danger.
MF Daniel James, 8 -- Could argue that he was denied an opportunity to play his best game as he was stationed on the left, which meant crosses were often a touch off, but grabbed an excellent individual goal to end his drought.
FW Odion Ighalo, 8 -- Continued his fine goal-scoring run with a strike that deserved to be witnessed by thousands. Utilised his strength well to create time and space for himself against a fairly poor LASK side.
MF Tahith Chong, N/R -- Came on for James with 20 minutes remaining with little direct bearing on the outcome.
MF Andreas Pereira, N/R -- Took Fernandes' place in midfield and duly struck a lovely long-distance goal to make it 5-0.
FW Mason Greenwood, N/R -- Received just seven minutes in replacing Ighalo, and still wrote his name on the scoresheet.