Sports Desk, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- Manchester United needed a penalty in extra time to beat Copenhagen 1-0 Monday and claim a berth in the Europa League semifinals along with Inter Milan, 2-1 winners over Bayer Leverkusen.
The Red Devils, who entered the quarterfinals as one of the favorites to hoist the trophy, faced a tougher-than-expected challenge from a Danish side who showed no signs of being overawed.
Copenhagen were the better team for the opening 20 minutes of the contest in Cologne.
United goalkeeper Sergio Romero had to come out to stop 18-year-old Mohammed Daramy from getting a shot off in the 12th minute and the youngster went on to create more trouble in front of the opposing goal.
Bruno Fernandes hit the cross-bar on a chance for United following a corner and VAR overruled a penalty for the Red Devils after Anthony Martial went down in the area, as the replay showed Harry Maguire was offside.
VAR intervened again at the end of the first half to disallow a goal by United’s Mason Greenwood for an offside infraction.
The second half turned out to be closer to the kind of match everyone expected, but Copenhagen keeper Karl-Johan Johnsson continued to frustrate United.
The stopper made 13 saves on the night, the most in any Champion League or Europa League match since the 2016-2017 campaign.
Johnsson thwarted Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Martial, who also saw himself denied by Copenhagen defender Victor Nelsson.
The Danish squad forced the game into extra time, but finally succumbed to the pressure in the 95th minute, when Martial drew a foul in the box.
This time, the penalty stood and Fernandes converted to put United ahead 1-0. Johnsson, however, made saves against Juan Mata and Victor Lindelöf to keep his team in the match until the final seconds.
Monday’s other match saw Inter striker Romelu Lukaku set a new record for goals in consecutive Europa League matches with nine, one better than the mark set in 2005 by Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer.
Nicolo Barella gave Inter the lead in the 9th minute after Leverkusen keeper Lukas Hradecky turned aside a shot by Lukaku.
The Belgian international got his goal in the 21st, tucking the ball past Hradecky even as he was being dragged down by Edmund Tapsoba.
In what may have been his final match for Leverkusen, Kai Havertz clawed back a goal for the German club in the 24th minute. But it wasn’t enough to spur his teammates against the superior Inter squad. EFE alc-am/dr