Football: Man United sink Linz in empty stadium, Basel stun Frankfurt while Wolves get crucial away goal

Manchester United's Juan Mata celebrating after scoring for his team to take a 3-0 lead over Lask in Linz.
Manchester United's Juan Mata celebrating after scoring for his team to take a 3-0 lead over Lask in Linz.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY (REUTERS) - Manchester United took a big step towards the Europa League quarter-finals by thrashing Austrian side Lask Linz 5-0 on Thursday (March 12) in their last 16 first-leg tie at an empty Linzer Stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Striker Odion Ighalo fired United ahead in the 28th minute as he juggled a Bruno Fernandes pass onto his left foot and unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner from 18 metres.

Daniel James doubled the lead in the 58th when he side-stepped his marker and buried a crisp low shot into the bottom corner, leaving keeper Alexander Schlager rooted to the spot.

Juan Mata made it 3-0 with a clinical finish from 10 metres after 82 minutes before late substitutes Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira put the icing on the cake in stoppage time.

Swiss side FC Basel stunned Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 away, also behind closed doors, as Samuele Campo curled in a 27th-minute free kick before substitute Kevin Bua made it 2-0 in the 73rd and then set up Fabian Frei to drill home the third.

An 88th-minute penalty from Bosnia forward Edin Visca gave Istanbul Basaksehir a 1-0 home win over FC Copenhagen in the solitary early fixture which fans were allowed to attend.

Former Chelsea striker Demba Ba missed a pair of gilt-edged chances for the Turkish side before Visca, who hit the post early on, drilled home his spot kick.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised his team for stretching their unbeaten run to 11 games in all competitions in unfamiliar circumstances.

“It was a weird atmosphere and the boys were so focused and created their own atmosphere and I think the camaraderie and the team spirit was there to see,” the Norwegian told BT Sport.

“It’s not to recommend (football behind closed doors) but I have to praise the boys because they did fantastic.”

The fixture was one of four in Europe's second-tier club competition ordered to be played with no fans present due to the coronavirus outbreak and two matches were postponed.

Spanish side Getafe refused to travel to Italy and face Inter Milan while AS Roma said they could not travel to Spain to play Sevilla because of flight restrictions.

United's fellow English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers earned a 1-1 draw at 10-man Olympiakos behind closed doors.

The match in Athens was given the go-ahead despite the Greek club’s owner Evangelos Marinakis saying earlier on Thursday that he had contracted the virus.

Olympiakos, who knocked out Arsenal in the previous round, had centre-back Ruben Semedo sent off in the 28th minute for a last-man foul but Youssef El Arabi fired them ahead in the 54th with a close-range finish.

Deflected shot

Pedro Neto levelled with a deflected shot from 23 metres for an important away goal as Wolves piled on the pressure after the break.

Bayer Leverkusen celebrated a 3-1 win at Rangers in front of a full house at Ibrox in Glasgow and Istanbul Basaksehir fans rejoiced after an 88th-minute penalty by Edin Visca gave them a 1-0 home win over FC Copenhagen.

Shakhtar Donetsk took full advantage of an empty ground at Vfl Wolfsburg and beat the German side 2-1, thanks to goals from Junior Moraes and Marcos Bahia, who cancelled out John Anthony’s Brooks effort for the hosts.

Viktor Kovalenko missed a penalty for Shakhtar before Wout Weghorst also squandered a spot-kick for Wolfsburg in an eventful first half.