Manchester United look destined for the Europa League quarter-finals after cruising to a resounding 5-0 victory over LASK in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Linz on Thursday.
In a match that was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, Odion Ighalo used his third start for United to take his tally for the club to four with a stunning effort in the 28th minute.
Ighalo then set up James to score his first goal since August, ending a run of 32 games and 2,527 minutes without hitting the back of the net in all competitions, before Juan Mata slid home a lovely pass from Fred.
Substitute duo Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira hit the back of the net within the space of 85 seconds in stoppage time to cap an impressive victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who are now 11 unbeaten in all competitions.
United went close in the 18th minute when Alexander Schlager palmed Luke Shaw’s cross to Mata, and his effort from 12 yards was deflected narrowly wide by Reinhold Ranftl.
Solskjaer’s men found the breakthrough when Ighalo juggled Bruno Fernandes’ outside-of-the-boot pass and unleashed a sublime effort that went in off the underside of the crossbar.
The Red Devils extended their lead 13 minutes after the restart. James was played in by Ighalo and he cut inside Gernot Trauner before picking out the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.
The upright denied Ighalo a second but United had a third when Fred’s excellent throughball cut the LASK defence open and Mata added the finishing touch.
Greenwood replaced Ighalo in the 85th minute and needed only six minutes before he fired a pass from fellow substitute Tahith Chong in off both posts.
A speculative 25-yard effort from Pereira then caught Schlager by surprise, evading the LASK keeper’s grasp to find the back of the net as United clinched a resounding triumph.
LASK (3-4-3): Schlager 4.5; Ramsebner 5.5, Trauner 4.5, Ranftl 6; Reiter 6, Holland 5.5 (Haudum 76, 6), Michorl 5, Renner 6; Tetteh (Raguz 61, 6), Klauss 5.5, Frieser 7 (Balic 71, 6)
Subs not used: Gebauer, Muller, Wostry, Sabitzer
Booked: Trauner, Klauss, Ramsebner
Manager: Valerien Ismael 5.5
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): Romero 6.5; Williams 6.5, Bailly 6, Maguire 6, Shaw 6; Fred 6.5, McTominay 7; Mata 7, Fernandes 7.5 (Pereira 78, 6.5); James 7 (Chong 71, 6); Ighalo 8 (Greenwood 85)
Subs not used: De Gea, Lindelof, Matic, Tuanzebe
Scorers: Ighalo (28), James (58), Mata (82), Greenwood (90+1), Pereira (90+3)
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 7
Referee: Artur Dias (Portugal) 7