Manchester United struggled to put away a doughty FC Copenhagen before doing so in extra time, Bruno Fernandes again the hero for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side.
The manager introduced Juan Mata for Mason Greenwood ahead of the extra half-hour and this proved prescient. On 95 minutes Anthony Martial was slipped in by Mata and while the superb Karl-Johan Johnsson saved from the Frenchman, a moment later Andreas Bjelland pulled him down.
Clément Turpin, the referee, awarded United’s 22nd penalty of the season and Fernandes beat Johnsson to set up the club’s 17th European semi-final – against either Wolves or Sevilla, who play on Tuesday.
Solskjær selected Eric Bailly to partner Harry Maguire with the recently injured Victor Lindelöf on the bench, while preferring Fred instead of Nemanja Matic in midfield. In sweltering heat United claimed a first corner though Fernandes’s delivery was defended easily.
More pleasing was the rhythm Fernandes and Paul Pogba were establishing in midfield, pulling their white-shirted opponents around: precisely what was required in the sweltering conditions. A move that went Martial-Marcus Rashford-Martial-Mason Greenwood had Copenhagen turned, then relieved, when Johnsson could collect.
Yet in moments play had moved to the other end as Copenhagen embarked upon a sustained period of pressure. Brandon Williams was beaten by Pep Biel who crossed from the right and United were thankful Bailly made the block. Then, Williams redeemed himself with a flying header beneath his bar after Martial inadvertently flicked on a Rasmus Falk corner.
Next a hapless Fred passed straight to Jonas Wind and Copenhagen were in, the ball going to Mohamed Daramy. Bailly looked to have policed him before the forward swivelled and left the defender on the turf. A Maguire leg stopped the shot, the ball rebounded to Wind before Pogba cleared.
This had Solskjær screaming at Fred for his lack of concentration, and United requiring a serious upturn in tempo. Confusion reigned when Turpin awarded them a penalty for what appeared a foul on Martial before VAR ruled offside. Continue reading