The longest European campaign in LASK’s history looks set to end in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 at Old Trafford as Manchester United host the Austria side boasting a 5-0 lead from the first leg in Linz.
• United finished on top of UEFA Europa League Group L, four points clear of AZ Alkmaar, to reach the round of 32, where they overwhelmed Belgian league leaders Club Brugge 6-1 over the two legs (1-1 a, 5-0 h) to book a fourth appearance in the competition’s round of 16.
• LASK were impressive UEFA Europa League group stage debutants in the autumn, topping Group D to secure post-Christmas European football for the first time, before extending their campaign still further by overcoming AZ 3-1 on aggregate in the round of 32 (1-1 a, 2-0 h).
• LASK’s first UEFA encounter against an English club turned out to be a painful experience as they were overwhelmed by their illustrious visitors, United scoring five times without reply, including twice in added time, to claim their biggest away win in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League and inflict a heaviest European home defeat on their hosts. Odion Ighalo supplied a sumptuous first-half strike, before Daniel James, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and – with the last kick of the game – Andreas Pereira added further goals in the second period.
• United are undefeated in their nine matches against Austrian clubs (W8 D1) and have won all four matches at home, scoring ten goals and conceding just one. The most recent victory came in the second group stage of the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League when they won 3-0 against Sturm Graz.
• The three-time champions of Europe finished sixth in the 2018/19 Premier League, which meant direct access to the UEFA Europa League. They were quarter-finalists in last season’s UEFA Champions League, going out to Barcelona (0-1 h, 0-3 a) after a remarkable round of 16 second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain (0-2 h, 3-1 a).
• United kept clean sheets in their first four UEFA Europa League group fixtures this term, securing qualification with two games to spare after doing the double over Partizan (1-0 a, 3-0 h). Although they lost 2-1 at Astana, ending the club’s 15-match unbeaten run in the competition, United signed off in style with a 4-0 home win against AZ that secured top spot in Group L. At the time that was the club’s joint biggest victory in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League, but they trumped that in the round of 32 second leg with their 5-0 defeat of Club Brugge.
• The Manchester giants have appeared in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 three times previously but have won only one of those ties, against Rostov (1-1 a, 1-0 h) in 2016/17 en route to lifting the trophy. The two defeats came before that, against Athletic Club (2-3 h, 1-2 a) in 2011/12 and domestic arch rivals Liverpool (0-2 a, 1-1 h) in 2015/16.
• The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last 13 UEFA Europa League home games (W11 D2), registering four wins out of four at Old Trafford this season and scoring 13 goals while conceding none. Their last three European home games have finished 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0.
• United have been successful in all 17 UEFA ties in which they won the first leg away, most recently in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo (1-0 a, 1-1 h). They have never previously won the away first leg 5-0.
• Runners-up to Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga last season, LASK also took part in UEFA competition for the first time since 2000 but were eliminated on away goals by Beşiktaş in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
• LASK began this season’s European journey in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, where they beat Basel (2-1 a, 3-1 h) before losing to Club Brugge (0-1 h, 1-2 a). That meant a first ever participation in the UEFA Europa League group stage, where they thrived, winning all three home games, registering 13 points and topping a group containing three European stalwarts in Sporting CP, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg.
• This is LASK’s first taste of springtime European football. Their previous best seasons in continental competition were 1984/85 and 1985/86, when they reached the second round of the UEFA Cup.
• The Linz club have won three and lost three of their last eight European away games and are unbeaten in the last three (W1 D2).
• There have been four previous instances of LASK losing the first leg of a UEFA tie at home, and on each occasion they have been eliminated after also losing the second leg, most recently in this season’s UEFA Champions League play-off against Club Brugge.
Links and trivia
• Manchester United’s January signing Bruno Fernandes scored the winning goal for Sporting in their 2-1 home victory against LASK on Matchday 2. The Portuguese international is the joint leading scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, with six goals, including one for United, a penalty, that opened the scoring in the 5-0 win against Club Brugge.
• LASK’s French coach Valérien Ismaël played in England from January to October 1998 with Crystal Palace, having joined the London club from Strasbourg for a record fee.
• Sergio Romero (Manchester United) and James Holland (LASK) were at AZ together in 2009/10, though the latter played no competitive matches for the club.
• LASK were one of six clubs to make their UEFA Europa League group stage debut in 2019/20, and are one of just two, along with Wolverhampton Wanderers, to have made it through to the round of 16.
• Manchester United are one of two former UEFA Europa League winners in this season’s round of 16, along with three-time champions Sevilla.
• Manchester United’s record in three UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L2:
4-5 v Videoton, 1984/85 UEFA Cup quarter-final
3-4 v Torpedo Moskva, 1992/93 UEFA Cup first round
6-5 v Chelsea, 2007/08 UEFA Champions League final
• LASK have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.
• A former Old Trafford favourite, whose legendary status at the club was confirmed with his added-time winner in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern München, Ole Gunnar Solskjær returned to Manchester United as interim manager in December 2018, replacing José Mourinho, before securing the position on a permanent basis the following March. A former Norwegian international striker renowned for his predatory goalscoring, he won six Premier League titles as a United player and established his reputation as a coach in his homeland with Molde.
• A former central defender who started out with home-town club Strasbourg, Ismaël spent the latter part of his career in Germany, winning the domestic double with both Werder Bremen and Bayern. His final club, Hannover, gave the Frenchman his first coaching opportunity in charge of the reserves, and he occupied a similar role at Wolfsburg, which was punctuated by a brief spell as head coach at Nürnberg. After another short stint as the main man at Wolfsburg, from October 2016 to February 2017, he resurfaced in Austria as the new boss of LASK in May 2019.