Five things we learned from Manchester United's 5-0 win against LASK
Manchester United won 5-0 away from home against LASK in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie tonight.
Here are five things we learned from the match which took place behind closed doors and should have put the tie to bed already.
Solskjaer taking Europa League seriously
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watched his players put in a huge effort against Manchester City at the weekend and could have easily made more changes than five.
Solskjaer put out a strong line up, including Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes, which was an indication of the regard in which he holds the competition.
The likes of Axel Tuanzebe and Tatith Chong might have liked 90 minutes, but we are past the point in the competition where Solskjaer is using it to give players gametime.
He knows managers at Old Trafford are judged on silverware and the Europa League provides an opportunity to win his first trophy as Reds boss, as well as getting into next season’s Champions League.
Williams can play right back
Brandon Williams is a right-footed full back but all his previous United appearances had come on the left flank.
With Aaron Wan-Bissaka rested and Diogo Dalot unavailable – which is a shame for a player who has had no luck with injuries – Solskjaer fielded Williams at right back.
He showed the same drive which has made him such a fan favourite this season. No United player completed more than his five dribbles.
It’s often important for young players to be able to play in a number of positions in order to get as much gametime as possible, and Williams showed he can do exactly that.
Ighalo scores when he starts
Odion Ighalo opened the scoring, which means he has netted in all three of his United starts so far.
Ighalo has done exceptionally well to get his sharpness back following his unexpected switch from Chinese football.
He offers the side a physical focal point, which gives the likes of Juan Mata a platform to play off, as well as being clinical in front of goal.
That allowed United to take advantage of their early dominance, and continued Ighalo’s attempt to make the very most of his spell with his boyhood club.
Bailly pushing for more league starts
Victor Lindelof endured some shaky form earlier on in the season and while he has improved lately, there is growing evidence to support Eric Bailly’s case for more Premier League starts.
The Ivorian made a crucial block late in the first half and he won seven aerial duels, which was two more than any other player on Solskjaer’s side.
Bailly has had rotten luck with injuries, which has stopped him showing what an asset he can be. He is quicker than any of United’s other central defensive options.
Now he looks fighting fit, and having been eased in carefully by Solskjaer, he looks ready for more regular action.
United improving away strategy
United didn’t have to worry about quietening the crowd in the early stages here, which left them free to get on the front foot from the off.
They played with confidence and purpose which has been rarely seen away from home in recent seasons.
It could have been more than 1-0 at half time, as Daniel James, Scott McTominay and Juan Mata all missed chances.
Bruno Fernandes was able to get free time and time again, creating six goalscoring opportunities on his own before being replaced by stoppage time goalscorer Andreas Pereira.
That’s testament to the growing authority in the Reds’ ranks, which has led to an away strategy which nullifies opponents and showcases quality and tempo on the ball.
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