Scholes predicts Lingard exit as United toil
Manchester United Lingard 57, Martial 88
United win 7-1 on agg 1
This may not have been a night when too many of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s fringe players advanced their claims for a regular place but, of all the lacklustre stand-ins for Paul Scholes to pick on, Jesse Lingard seemed an odd choice.
Lingard had at least demonstrated some of the urgency his Manchester United team-mates lacked and kick-started a comeback against LASK with his second goal in as many games before being taken off, somewhat strangely, only six minutes later.
Needing games, and with little prospect of starting Monday’s Europa League quarter-final against Copenhagen in Cologne, according to pundit Scholes, the former United midfielder viewed Lingard’s premature withdrawal as further evidence Solskjaer might be making preparations to “get rid” of Lingard.
Lingard could count himself unfortunate not to finish this drab game, his frustration at being substituted obvious as he left the field and also after the game.
“I was enjoying the game,” he said. “I felt like I could score more today, but obviously it’s the manager’s decision and I stand by that. Of course, you take confidence from goals. I wanted to add goals this season and hopefully I can carry on throughout this competition.”
Solskjaer sidestepped a question about Lingard’s future, but said he would be “disappointed” if he had been happy about coming off. “I’ve known Jesse since he was a kid, there’s a good player there, a great personality, he knows what we want from him and he has to stand by the manager, whatever decision he makes,” the United manager said.
Lingard has scored as many goals in the past 11 days as he did in the previous eight months and his finish from Juan Mata’s through ball drew United level moments after a stunning 25-yard strike from Philipp Wiesinger had given LASK a deserved lead. Anthony Martial’s 23rd goal of the season was enough to win it late on for United, but the result flattered them.
Copenhagen lie in wait after the Danish side overturned a 1-0 deficit to beat Istanbul Basaksehir 3-0, but United will have to play better than this to reach the semi-finals.
Solskjaer pledged to make changes and it is easy to see why.
Sure, United’s place in the last eight had been assured after their 5-0 first-leg win in March, but this was an opportunity for Solskjaer’s squad players to impress and the lack of urgency was troubling.
Lingard and Mata were busy, but Daniel James was anonymous, Fred made little headway and Odion Ighalo never got close to replicating his impressive turn in Austria.
“We learnt the players need to play to keep that sharpness,” Solskjaer said. “Some lads haven’t played for a while and it showed.”
It was certainly another reminder of how much strengthening this squad still require, something
Jadon Sancho alone would not address. Indeed, it was not until the opening minutes of the second half that United managed their first shot on target, and it needed Wiesinger’s breathtaking goal, after a corner was only partially cleared, to lift the hosts from their slumber.
From a stray pass from LASK midfielder, Reinhold Ranftl, Mata swept a lovely first-time pass into the path of Lingard, whose shot raced past Alexander Schlager with the help of a slight deflection.
LASK were determined to give a good account of themselves after their humbling in Austria and it required a decent save from Sergio
Romero to shut out Dominik Reiter in the 71st minute and also deny Marko Raguz an equaliser after Martial had put United in front. After a couple of quick one-twos with Mata opened up LASK’s defence, Martial watched his shot dribble under Schlager. Next stop Cologne.
(4-2-3-1) Romero 7; Fosu-Mensah 5 (Mengi 84), Bailly 6, Maguire 6, Williams 6 (Chong 72); McTominay 5, Fred 5 (Pereira 63); Mata 7, Lingard 6 (Pogba 63), James 4 (Martial 84); Ighalo 5. Grant (g), Rashford, Fernandes, Greenwood, Wan-Bissaka, Matic, Garner. McTominay.
(3-4-3) Schlager 6; Wiesinger 7 (Sabitzer 73), Trauner 7, Andrade 6 (Filipovic 80); Ranftl 5, Holland 6, Michorl 6, Renner 6; Frieser 6, Raguz 6, Balic 6 (Reiter 66). Lawal (g), Gebauer, Ramsebner, Muller, Wostry, Haudum, Celic. Michorl.
Anastasios Sidiropoulos (Greece).
2 Mixed emotions: Jesse Lingard scores his second goal in as many games to bring Manchester United level, but was soon replaced, much to his frustration