It wasn’t worth waiting five minutes for, never mind five months, but Manchester United had already done more than enough in Austria in March.
They advance to the business end of the Europa League in Cologne next week and a quarter-final meeting with Copenhagen.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will go into the mini-tournament in Germany as favourites and rightly so, even though there was little evidence to support that on a drab night at Old Trafford.
A 5-0 lead from the first leg before lockdown turned this tie into the deadest of rubbers and gave Solskjaer the chance to make changes again. He has used 36 players in Europe this season, a record for the competition.
Although United came back to win, their strength in depth once again left something to be desired. While Solskjaer’s first XI is a match for any in the Premier League, this is why he wants to strengthen with new signings like Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish.
Juan Mata came in for only his second start since facing LASK at the Linzer Stadion 147 days ago and set up an equaliser for Jesse Lingard and a late winner for Anthony Martial after Philipp Wiesinger had put the Austrians In front with an excellent finish.
But Daniel James continues to look like a man whose season has been petering out for some time, Odion Ighalo was sluggish in attack and Fred has suffered through lack of first-team action.
Lingard actually looked quite sprightly but that didn’t stop his former team-mate Paul Scholes casting doubt over his future at the club after he was replaced by Paul Pogba just after the hour mark.
‘Recently, he’s not been good enough,’ says Scholes which seemed harsh considering Lingard’s goal was his second in two games.
‘I know what he’s capable of, but at United he’s just become a squad player. Unless there are a lot of injuries I don’t see Jesse getting a run of games.
‘To bring him off after an hour when he definitely won’t start on Monday that was a little sign – and Fred as well – that he (Solskjaer) might be getting rid of them.’
Lingard certainly didn’t appear very pleased to be taken off having just fired United level on the night.
‘I felt like I could score more today but obviously it’s the manager’s decision and I stand by that,’ he said.
Solskjaer’s response was pointed. ‘He has to stand by the manager whatever decision he makes,’ said the United boss.
‘When you get your chance in a game, you have to prove yourself – prove your worth.
‘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.’
United could certainly have no complaints when they went behind 10 minutes after half-time.
LASK had threatened in the first half when Andres Andrade headed against the bar from a corner, and Marko Raguz forced a smart save from Sergio Romero after United gave the ball away cheaply in midfield.
When they were less than convincing in clearing their lines from another corner in the 55th minute, the ball ran to Wiesinger 25 yards from goal. The defender kept his composure and guided the ball with his right foot beyond Romero and into the top corner.
Up to that point, United’s threat had been minimal. Harry Maguire headed wide from a corner, Rene Renner nicked the ball off Ighalo’s toes after he raced onto Lingard’s flick and cut inside Gernot Trauner, while Lingard and James just failed to get a touch on Brandon Williams’ cross as it rolled past the far post.
James, meanwhile, twice got into promising positions on either flank but failed to pick out a team-mate, which has been the story of the second half of his season.
LASK’s lead last barely two minutes before United struck back. Mata spotted Lingard’s run into acres of space behind the Austrian defence and swung a pass over the top.
Lingard, who scored his first goal of the season on the final day at Leicester, had more than enough time to draw Alexander Schalger before slipping the ball past the keeper.
Solskjaer sent on his substitutes and Martial provided the winner in the 88th minute shortly after replacing James. The Frenchman combined twice with Mata on the edge of the box as LASK were carved open by the most clinical move of the match, and beat Schlager for his 23rd goal of the season.
No sooner had the two teams left the pitch than United’s missing players emerged for some training drills: Aaron Wan-Bissaka crossing for Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to go for goal in from of the East Stand.
It would be a big surprise if Solskjaer doesn’t reinstate them when the serious business starts again in Cologne on Monday.
‘Some of these lads haven’t played for a while and it showed,’ he said. ‘It’s that sharpness you lack when you don’t play regularly.
‘For me, it was a good exercise. Job done, minutes under the belt, and on to Copenhagen.’
Relive all the action from the game with Sportsmail’s coverage below…
Thanks for joining me for this tonight as Manchester United seal their Europa League progress.
The full report should be above me and we will have all the reaction to follow.
Until next time.
Inter Milan are also through following their single-leg 2-0 victory over Getafe.
Romelu Lukaku and Christian Eriksen struck in both halves to seal victory.
Sergio Romero pulls off a fine stop in the dying seconds to preserve an undeserved victory.
Philip Wiesinger put LASK ahead in the second half before Jesse Lingard’s near-instant leveler, with Anthony Martial coming off the bench to seal victory.
Copenhagen await in the next round in Cologne.
Well there it is.
Juan Mata squeezes the ball to Anthony Martial, he jinks into the box and slides home his 23rd goal of the season. He is now Manchester United’s leading scorer this season ahead of Rashford.
The hosts are now on the way to a wholly unsatisfactory victory sealed only by one of their key men off the bench.
Finally Mengi gets his moment in place of Fosu-Mensah.
Martial is also on to replace Dan James. Solskjaer clearly keen to sneak a winner here for morale purposes.
Inter have finally, surely, sealed the victory.
Christian Eriksen is there to fire home a loose ball after a fine run and cross from D’Ambrosio down the right.
A big moment for 18-year-old Teden Mengi as the centre-back makes his Manchester United debut.
Tahith Chong has slotted in at left-back, with Williams wrapped in cotton wool and Luke Shaw injured until September. He has looked comfortable there, it could be a long-term shift…
Mata miscontrols as the ball rolls to him across the box. Awful moment for the Spaniard.
LASK bring on Filipovic and take off Andrade.
Not much else to report as we near the final ten minutes of an instantly forgettable game.
Anthony Taylor awards Getafe a penalty against Inter Milan.
A lifeline after Diego Godin was adjudged to have handled in the box… but Jorge Molina sends it wide of the post! Inter still on for a huge victory.
Lukaku then misses a sitter from yards out after a fine pull-back. No one wants to win this just yet…
Those substitutions have done nothing to lit the game. Very dull right now.
Sabitzer is on for LASK.Williams off and Chong on for Manchester United.
Eric Bailly appeared to take a knee to the head but is fine to continue.
Mata and James build an attack but the final ball is wasteful yet again.
LASK also make their first change.
Balic off, Reiter on.
Having scored the leveller, Jesse Lingard is then hooked and does not look happy.
Lingard and Fred depart, Paul Pogba and Andreas Pereira enter the fray.
Mata and Lingard combine again but the latter’s shot is blocked.
Fosu-Mensah picks it up, shifts onto his left boot but lashes one harmlessly wide.
That’s a shame.
The prolific Jesse Lingard pounces on Mata’s through ball after a sloppy LASk pass, gives the keeper the eyes and sticks home the equaliser via a massive deflection off the chasing Wiesinger.
He actually has the nerve to celebrate a goal the hosts simply don’t deserve.
Fresh from his first European goal, Wiesinger very almost grabs a second straightaway. From the edge of the box, it is a whisker away from creeping in.
Well you cannot say that isn’t deserved. Four more of those and LASK are in business.
Williams concedes a corner on the left.
The ball comes in, it is cleared to Wiesinger who just caresses it into the far corner.
This is better.
First, Mata slips the ball to Ighalo but his weak shot as he slips is easily saved. Still, it counts as a shot .
McTominay and Lingard combine in midfield, the latter releases Williams down the left, he breaks into the box and his low centre is just inches away from the sliding James and Lingard.
Once more Dan James bursts into space on the edge of the penalty area.
Once again his end product is atrocious with Ighalo lurking.
Here we go then…
8 – Romelu #Lukaku has scored in his last eight Europa League matches, equalling the longest streak in the competition (including UEFA Cup) set by Alan Shearer in 2005. Sniper. #InterGetafe pic.twitter.com/jyjKLRYZ15
Let’s pretend that didn’t happen?
A woeful first-half display from Manchester United, with LASK coming closest to a breakthrough after hitting the bar.
Not one of these fringe players is working their way into first-team thinking at the moment.
Romelu Lukaku’s goal is the only difference between Inter and Getafe in their single-leg knockout match. Getafe have 45 minutes to turn that around.
We are inching towards half-time.
Jesse Lingard is on the receiving end of a nasty tackle from Michorl, who goes into the book.
A truly dreadful half of football, this.
The hosts are really struggling for fluency here and could easily be behind.
Far from showing their worth, the second string are proving why they are second string.
Dan James, down the right, wins a corner as he tries to use his pace to get in behind on the break.
Inter have the breakthrough and, rather predictably, it is ROmelu Lukau who makes it.
A long ball over the top, he holds off the defender from the left edge of the box and fires calmly across the keeper.
That is number 30 for the Belgian.
LASK attack again, this time down the left and the whipped ball is almost headed home! Harry Maguire was left stranded there.
Seconds later Scott McTominay has the ball on the edge of the box but dallies on it and is robbed.
A corner is then sent towards Maguire who heads wide again.
LASK are having some joy down their right. A cut-back is missed by everyone across the box, before Michorl’s free-kick, left of centre, is wasted and straight into the wall.
Australian international James Holland launches in a Rory-Delap-esque throw that Romero claims.
Still goalless in today’s other late game, which is one of the first single-leg ties to be played as per UEFA’s new format to expedite the competition.
Getafe seem to be on top right now, Inter weathering some pressure.
The game is already in somewhat of a lull.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah, making the most of his second life as a Manchester United player, charges forward from right-back but rather overthinks his final ball and loses possession.
LASK finally build some pressure with a succession of corners. Andres Andrade meets one with a fine header and it bounces off the top of the bar! Sergio Romero was nowhere near that.
Manchester United’s quarter-final opponents have been confirmed as FC Copenhagen.
That is, should they scrape through this tie.
Michorl spots Romero off his line but really shouldn’t have bothered.
The effort from around halfway just floats harmlessly wide.
Juan Mata streaks clear down the right and has Odion Ighalo free in the box but his low centre is cut out for a corner.
Captain Harry Maguire, playing his 800th game of the season, rises highest but nods over.
The hosts are donning their home kit for next season for the first time.
They almost get into trouble on the edge of their own box, but danger is averted.
The whistle goes, the players take a knee, and away we play.
Out the players come and we are minutes away from kick off here.
Stick with us for all the action.
He told BT Sport: ‘Only two changes from the first leg and one is forced because Luke is injured and Bruno is rested and Jesse is in.
‘We want to go to Germany hopefully with many players with confidence, go in there for 12 days together and everyone knows they are valuable for us and we need good performances for us so they know they can play every game for us.
‘It would be better for us to be here and travel on the day but it is what ist is.
‘We need to do this properly tonight.
‘They have trained with us a lot and they have shown what they are capable of, for us let’s get a good start and see what we can do.
Found it a little strange that Man United didn’t make a serious move for this pacy, left-sided defender who may have bought balance to their defence.
He said: “It wasn’t a 5-0 difference between the teams [in the first leg].
“We were winning 2-0 after 60 minutes and scored three in the closing stages, so we know we have to perform.
“There’s opportunities for players to stake a claim, if they get through.”
Incoming Reds ft. new #UEL threads 🧶#MUFC pic.twitter.com/3YO3SXY0zJ
INTER: Handanovic, Godin, de Vrij, Bastoni, D’Ambrosio, Gagliardini, Brozovic, Barella, Young, Lukaku, Martinez
SUBS: Sanchez, Moses, Sensi, Ranocchia, Valero, Eriksen, Padelli, Esposito, Agoume, Biraghi, Skriniar, Candreva
GETAFE: Soria, Suarez, Dakonam, Etxeita, Olivera, Maksimovic, Timor, Nyom, Arambarri, Cucurella, Mata
SUBS: Chichizola, Cabaco, Chema,Portillo, Rodriguez, Ndiaye, Molina, Fajr, Jason, Duro, Paul
LASK: Schlager, Andrade, Trauner, Wiesinger, Renner, Michorl, Holland, Ranftl, Balic, Raguz, Frieser
SUBS: Lawal, Gebauer, Filipovic, Reiter, Ramsebner, Muller, Wostry, Haudum, Sabitzer, Celic
MANCHESTER UNITED: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Maguire, Williams, Mata, McTominay, Fred, Lingard, James, Ighalo
SUBS: Grant, Pogba, Martial, Rashford, Pereira, Bruno Fernandes, Greenwood, Wan-Bissaka, Matic, Garner, Chong, Mengi
The two early kick-offs have just restarted after half-time. Man United will play the winners of Copenhagen v Istanbul Basashekir.
FC Copenhagen 1-0 Instanbul Basashekir (AGG: 1-1)
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Wolfsburg (AGG: 2-1)
Thanks for joining us tonight as we welcome the return of European football for the first time since March 12.
Now the domestic season has concluded, Manchester United can resume their quest for Europa League glory by completing their last-16 tie against LASK at Old Trafford.
They have a healthy 5-0 lead from the first leg, and you can stick with us for all the updates, line-ups and scores throughout.