Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata admits the team is “quite tired physically” after narrowly beating FC Copenhagen 1-0 after extra time to reach the Europa League semi-finals.
The Red Devils had the better of the possession and chances against the Danish side on a swelteringly hot evening in Cologne, but were nearly left to rue a combination of bad luck, poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping from goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson before eventually securing victory.
United hit the woodwork twice and saw Mason Greenwood’s first-half strike ruled out offside, while goalkeeper Johnsson made a Europa League record 13 saves.
Johnsson was eventually beaten from the penalty spot in extra-time, Bruno Fernandes slamming the ball into the corner after Anthony Martial had been bundled over in the area.
Both teams looked out on their feet at the final whistle, a reflection of the effort they put in over the 120 minutes as well as the long season that had preceded it.
The win sends United through to their third semi-final of a season that has lasted more than a year, with Sunday’s last four clash against either Wolves or Sevilla their 61st match of 2019-20.
Speaking after the game Mata admitted the players were feeling the effects of such a tough encounter, but remained focused on ending their long campaign with silverware.
"The team is quite tired physically. At this stage of this season it is important to win games like today and we go through,” he told BT Sport. “We stay in Germany for quite some time and hopefully we can win.
"Both teams got a little tired and there were more spaces and more chances. They played some good football and credit to them. We could have scored more goals in extra time but we are through.
"I don't think it was complacency. They played some great football in their last game. We scored one goal, of course we are happier when we score more but now it is time to recover and wait and find out who we get in the next round."