Manchester United have one foot in the Europa League quarter-finals after routing LASK on Thursday night.
Odion Ighalo opened the scoring with a stunning left-footed strike, before goals from Daniel James, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira wrapped up proceedings in the second-half.
But for all of United‘s brilliance in Austria, one of the biggest talking points was the fact no fans were in attendance at the Raiffeisen Arena because of the current coronavirus pandemic.
Games across Europe are being played behind closed doors in order to limit the spread of the pathogen with similar scenes witnessed during Paris Saint-Germain vs Borussia Dortmund.
And while La Liga and Serie A shut up shop in the wake of the crisis, with the Premier League potentially following suit, the United game could be one of the last we see in the coming weeks.
LASK 0-5 Man Utd
It’s been incredibly strange seeing the matches played in near-silence with the rattling of the goal nets, players barking orders and murmurings from the bench becoming audible on broadcasts.
However, that wasn’t quite the case in Austria on Thursday as fans on social media noticed that a single United supporter could be heard chanting during BT Sport’s coverage of the match.
What sounded like a lone male called out ‘we love United, we do’ while a LASK player was receiving treatment and drew the attention of BT’s commentators.
Who was the Man Utd fan?
United fans watching from home were quick to applaud the chanter and some even joked that they created more atmosphere than you’d usually hear at the Etihad Stadium.
Had he broken into the stadium? Was somebody with a particularly loud voice standing outside the ground?
Well, we don’t know for certain, but it seems as though a member of The United Stand with media access to the game was responsible for the admirable chanting.
That, and a few fans that congregated outside also chipped in with some chanting of their own.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was even questioned on the atmosphere in his press conference, remarking: “Yeh, it was good! We heard them and we heard the chef as well!
“I said on the bench before the game when we heard them outside the stadium that that’s fantastic.”
Uncertainty about the future
There’s no denying that United have some of the best travelling supporters in England and the world, so fair play to whoever was leading the chants from outside the ground or within.
And any fans who made the trip to Austria will be able to benefit from United’s show of class; awarding each and every person who bought tickets £350 for the inconvenience.
In the end, United were victorious regardless of whether anybody was watching or not, but the wider question now concerns whether the Europa League and other competitions will even continue.
There’s a real threat to the remainder of the 2019/20 football season and whatever decision is made, the health of everybody must be the priority.
- Match report: LASK 0-5 Man Utd
- Ighalo scores FIFA Street goal vs LASK
- Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus