KEY POINTS

  • Solskjaer praised Juan Mata after Man Utd's 1-0 win
  • Mata came in as a substitute at extra-time
  • He has scored three goals in 36 matches this season

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heaped praise on Juan Mata after Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Copenhagen in the Europa League on Monday.

Since the remainder of the Europa League season will have only have one-leg matches, Man Utd have qualified for the semi-final. It is just their second European semi-final since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, doing so in the 2013-14 season when they went on to win the Europa League under Jose Mourinho.

Man Utd defeated the Danish opponents in the extra time with Bruno Fernandes’ 95th-minute penalty. Solskjaer’s side will now face either Sevilla or Wolves in the last-four fixture next weekend.

Bruno Fernandes scored the winning goal from the penalty spot as Manchester United needed extra time to overcome FC Copenhagen Bruno Fernandes scored the winning goal from the penalty spot as Manchester United needed extra time to overcome FC Copenhagen Photo: POOL / WOLFGANG RATTAY Speaking in a post-match interview about Man Utd’s performance, Solskjaer said, "I am delighted that we're through. I think we deserved to win tonight. It could have been one of those nights that you ended up with a penalty shootout. They made it hard for us. It's a good team we played against, well organized. They had a game plan – we knew they were going to be hard to break down. We knew we would get chances."

Mata, who has scored just three goals in 36 competitive appearances for Man Utd in 2019-20, came in as a substitute at the start of extra time during the Copenhagen match. Solskjaer was quick to acknowledge Mata’s contribution, who was composed the whole time and his controlled passing helped The Red Devils earn the match-winning penalty.

"I think you saw when he came on he's so composed, calm. He's clever, he's got quick feet in small right areas. He can pick a pass, he can calm us down at times and he's such a great influence in and around the place as well, with the culture and the dressing room. I just commend him for his professionalism. Of course, he's disappointed he's not played more but he's one of the top assist-makers in the Europa League and he's really done well for us," added Solskjaer in the same interview.

The reporters, after Man Utd’s win in the quarter-final of the Europa League Monday, were keener to ask about Jadon Sancho’s transfer rather than the match. Sancho has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford over the last few months. However, the deal has not happened yet due to Borrusia Dortmund’s demand of $143 million as a transfer fee.

Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc’s latest statement further created a hullabaloo in Sancho’s transfer. While many still anticipated Sancho to move to Man Utd, Zorc said that the 20-year-old midfielder will stay in Germany for another season.

Meanwhile, Solskajer refused to react to Zorc’s comments or give a statement regarding Sancho’s transfer this summer.