Manchester United 1-0 Copenhagen: Bruno Fernandes extra-time penalty seals Europa League semi-final spot for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
(African Stand) — Bruno Fernandes’ extra-time penalty sent Manchester United into the Europa League semi-finals as they fought past FC Copenhagen on a sweltering night in Cologne.
United was frustrated for much of the evening by a combination of the woodwork, disallowed goals, and the brilliance of Copenhagen goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson as normal time finished goalless.
In 30-degree-plus heat, an extra half hour was the last thing anyone needed, but Fernandes’ spot-kick eventually earned a 1-0 win to ensure United’s stay in Germany for this novel mini-tournament goes on.
Having rotated for the formality of last week’s last-16 second leg against LASK, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to the bulk of his first-choice XI, making six changes.
They were sluggish out of the blocks, though, and haad some good defending from Eric Bailly to thank for denying Mohamed Daramy the chance to open the scoring, before Harry Maguire blocked from the same player and Paul Pogba also made a crucial intervention.
They did have a penalty briefly awarded for a foul on Anthony Martial in the six-yard box, only for VAR to spot Maguire offside in the build-up and overturn the decision.
Before the half was out they saw a goal chalked off for the same reason, this time Mason Greenwood the man flagged after he’d whipped home a terrific finish via the upright.
The ball was in the net again after the restart, Greenwood once more striking against the upright and this time the ball ricocheting back to Marcus Rashford, who tapped home but well aware that he was clearly offside.
Bruno Fernandes crashed a wicked striker off the far post from range but the Danish side was still a threat on the counter-attack, substitute Bryan Oviedo thwarted by Bailly’s latest block after outrageous skill from Rasmus Falk.
Martial must’ve thought he’d won it with a right-footed striker six minutes from the end of normal time but Johnsson produced a stunning one-handed save to set up extra-time.
Martial was again kept out by the Copenhagen ‘keeper at the beginning of extra-time but within moments he was felled by Andreas Bjelland and this time when the referee pointed to the spot there would be no reprieve for the Danes, as the decision stood and Fernandes lashed home a clinical effort.
In the end, United’s dominance was clear and should really have been reflected on the scoreboard, but Johnsson was in inspired form, denying Martial again as well as substitute Juan Mata twice.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Romero 6.5; Wan-Bissaka 6.5, Bailly 6 (Lindelof 71, 6), Maguire 6, Williams 7; Fred 5 (Matic 70, 6), Pogba 5.5; Greenwood 6, Fernandes 6.5, Rashford 6 (Lingard 113, 6); Martial 6.5 (McTominay 120)
Subs not used: De Gea, Pereira, James, Fosu-Mensah, Ighalo, Chong, Mengi.
Scorer: Fernandes pen 95
Booked: Bailly, Maguire
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 6
FC Copenhagen (4-3-3): Johnsson 8.5; Varela 6 (Bartolec 105, 6), Nelsson 7, Bjelland 5, Boilesen 6 (Bengtsson 15, 6.5); Biel 6 (Oviedo 58, 6), Stage 6.5 (Mudrazija 105, 6), Zeca 6; Daramy 7 (Kaufmann 57, 6), Wind 6.5, Falk 8 (Boving 111, 6)
Subs: Andersen, Grytebust, Papagiannopoulos, Hjaelmhof
Booked: Kaufmann, Stage, Zeca
Manager: Stale Solbakken 7
Referee: Clement Turpin (France) 6.5