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United, Inter reach Europa semi finals

Manchester United needed extra-time to edge past brave FC Copenhagen 1-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League.

After 90 minutes in Cologne, where the two teams could not be separated in hot and humid conditions, Anthony Martial won United’s 21st penalty across all competitions this season and Bruno Fernandes fired it home.

It broke a brave resistance from the Danish champions, who had defended brilliantly but did ride their luck slightly as Mason Greenwood and Fernandes both had struck the post in normal time and Greenwood had a goal ruled out by VAR in the first half for offside.

Copenhagen also had their goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson to thank as he made 13 saves, the joint-most by a goalkeeper in a single Europa League game since the competition’s rebranding in 2009-10.

United will face the winners of Tuesday’s Europa League quarter-final between Wolves and Sevilla for a place in the Europa League final on August 21.

Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku also scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen as he tormented the Germans to lead his side into the Europa League semifinals on Monday.

Nicolo Barella put Inter ahead after 15 minutes, driving the ball home after Lukaku’s shot was blocked, and six minutes later the Belgian got on the scoresheet when he displayed his strength by holding off defender Edmond Tapsoba before firing home.

Leverkusen winger Kai Havertz, reported to be a transfer target of Premier League club Chelsea, pulled a goal back for the Germans but it was goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky who kept them in the game with a string of fine saves.

The win sets up a semifinal against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk or FC Basel of Switzerland.

After scoring what proved to be the winner, Lukaku could have had a second goal when Inter were awarded a penalty for handball, but that harsh decision against Leverkusen was overturned by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Tapsoba struggled all night to contain the physicality of 27-year-old Lukaku, who set a record by scoring in nine straight Europa League games, and in the second half the centre-back resorted to hacking the striker down on a number of occasions. –AFP

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