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2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – Villarreal – Final

Manchester United were beaten 11-10 on penalties after a 1-1 draw playing two hours of football. Gerard Moreno opened the scoring in the 29th minute of the match with Edinson Cavani equalising ten minutes into the second half. Marcus Rashford had a chance to take the lead in the second half but he missed. The penalties were interesting and seeing each team score ten in a row was immense but when David De Gea stepped up, I had a feeling that he would miss, which is what happened. It is unfortunate but it happens. United will now pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get ready for the Euro’s and next season.

It was a pretty even start to the UEFA Europa League final with both sides aiming to start well. I don’t have much confidence in the United defence as Eric Bailly has not really been at his best recently and has spend much of his time on the bench but did play in the final Premier League match of the season on Sunday. Scott McTominay had a chance in the seventh minute of the match but missed the target. There really did not seem to be much aggression from United but any attacks they made seemed to be covered by Villarreal, who had everything covered when they needed to, which was good for them – not for United.

United started to get better on the attack but Villarreal were also progressing forward and giving United many different problems. In the 29th minute of the match, Villarreal took the lead through Gerard Moreno, who had scored his 30th goal in all competitions this season. Daniel Parejo played the ball into the forward with only David De Gea to beat but he did not get a great connection on the ball but did enough to beak the United goalkeeper and put his team in the lead. At that time, United seemed down and out and somewhat dejected. Solskjaer was not all the impressed on the sideline after the goal.

United started to progress into attacking positions again after conceding but Villarreal seemed to have it all covered but United were also not playing to the best of their abilities. Bruno Fernandes looked frustrated, as he is a perfectionist and will be seeking to change the game. It was a hairy last ten minutes of so of the first half with Villarreal playing to a certain swagger and United still not rising to the challenge. The half time team talk was probably going to be something reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer, which was probably not something the team were looking forward to, but something need to give. Villarreal left at the break.

At the start of the second half, there were no changes for either team, when perhaps there could have been at least one for United. Harry Maguire made the bench but it is yet unknown as to how much of a part he could play, if at all but there was a reason that he was put on the bench and perhaps it would be revealed as the game goes on? Ten minutes into the second half, United had got themselves back into the game through none other that Edinson Cavani, who scored his 17th goal of the season. Luke Shaw played a part in the goal after a corner was cleared to him, he found Scott McTominay who had a touch before Cavani took over and scored.

United did have a penalty shout before they scored but VAR looked at it and gave nothing. It seemingly took longer for VAR to give United’s equaliser than it did to look at the possible penalty. Since the equaliser, United had many attacking chances but the finishing was not as good as it should have been. The Villarreal from the first half were not all that present in the second half with United getting more of the chances – I am not saying Villarreal did nothing but there was nothing that could have won them the match. They made some changes but it was not putting them in the position to win and United still had five substitutions to their advantage.

Despite the chances in the second half, there were no further goals in the second half resulting in the match going into extra time. There were still no substitutions for United, which was unbelievable giving the suggestion that the team was in a good period of peak fitness. Marcus Rashford had the best chance in the second half but did not fire his effort on target, which was a shame to see. The luck really is not there for him at this time. Villarreal seemed to be fresh in the first half of extra time with United also looking to cause some damage with Cavani needing a split second to find a goal. Fred replaced Mason Greenwood in the 100th minute.

There were no further substitutions at the start of the second half of extra time. United were under pressure and Villarreal looked the freshest, having made five substitutions in the second half of the match. United made a double substitution in the 116th minute of the match with Axel Tuanzebe and Daniel James replacing Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba. There was so much tension in the match coming to the end of extra time. Luke Shaw seemed to be down with a knock and less then two minutes of time remaining. Juan Mata and Alex Telles were the final substitutions, replacing Scott McTominay and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

It was 1-1 after extra time and penalties would decide the result of this match. Gerard Moreno took the first penalty, finding the back of the net. Juan Mata took the second, finding the back of the net. 1-1. Danial Raba took the third, scoring. Alex Telles took the fourth, scoring. 2-2. Paco Alcácer took the fifth, De Gea almost saved it. Bruno Fernandes took the sixth, scoring it with the goalkeeper close to making the save. 3-3. Alverto Moreno took the seventh, scoring. Marcus Rashford too the eighth, scoring it. 4-4 and into sudden death. Daniel Parejo took the ninth, scoring it. Edinson Cavani took the tenth, scoring it. 5-5.

Proper sudden death. Moi Gomez took the eleventh, scoring. Fred took the twelfth, scoring it. 6-6. Raúl Albion took the thirteenth, scoring it. Daniel James took the fourteenth, scoring it. 7-7. Francis Coquelin took the fifteenth, scoring it. Luke Shaw took the sixteenth, just squeezing in past the keeper. 8-8. Mario Gaspar took the seventeenth, scoring it although De Gea had his hand to it. Axel Tuanzebe took the eighteenth, scoring it. 9-9. Pau Torres took the nineteenth, scoring it. Victor Lindelof took the twentieth, scoring it. 10-10. Gerónimo Rulli too the twenty-first, scoring it. David De Gea took the twenty-second, missing it. Villarreal win 11-10.

Goals: Gerard Moreno 29′; Edinson Cavani 55′

Assists: Daniel Parejo 29′; Scott McTominay 55′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Greenwood (Fred 100′), Fernandes, Rashford; Cavani

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Henderson; Maguire, Williams, Telles, Tuanzebe; Mata, Amad, James, Matic, Van de Beek

Bookings: Etienne Capoue 54′, Juan Foyth 84′; Eric Bailly 82′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – AS Roma – Away

Manchester United were beaten 3-2 by AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening, but won the semi-final 8-5 on aggregate to reach the final of the UEFA Europa League where they will face Spanish side Villarreal in Gdansk on Wednesday 26 May 2021. Edinson Cavani opened the scoring in the 39th minute of the match with United leading at the break. In three minutes in the second half Edin Džeko and Bryan Cristante put Roma in the lead. Cavani then levelled in the 68th minute for United. The draw was not enough for Roma with Nicola Zalewski scoring the winner seven minutes from time.

United started out well against Roma but the Italian side soon got themselves into the match and threatened United with David De Gea performing a great save to deny them from their first goal of the match. United got forward a few times with Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani both playing well but the Uruguayan, who had a good shot on goal, missed the target, which was a shame. In the 18th minute of the match, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was booked for a challenge, meaning he will need to keep his head this evening. Roma had a few more chances on goal but De Gea held firm. Chris Smalling had to go off injured in the 30th minute.

United opened the scoring in the match in the 39th minute through none other than Edinson Cavani, who scored his 13th goal of the season. A wonderful flick from Bruno Fernandes ended up with the ball being played into Fred. The Brazilian then found the feet of Cavani who took a touch of the ball before sending it into the neck of the net with his right foot. Antonio Mirante was only able to watch the ball hit the back of his net. Roma were in a precarious position with a five-goal deficit with this goal but United will not be happy with just one goal. They should ideally be seeking to score another, nullifying Roma’s away goals from last week.

United had a few more chances to double their lead before the end of the first half, which had three minutes added on. Solskjaer will take his team into the dressing room and it will probably be less fierce in there than it was at Old Trafford last week with United 2-1 down at the end of the first half. Fernandes was a player that was involved a lot in the build up of chances, also being at the end of others. He had a great chance to get a goal in the first half but tried something spectacular and it did not work for him – ending up in a heap in the penalty box. But it was not the end of the world for him. He will get more chances in this match.

Solskjaer made a double substitution during the break with saw Luke Shaw and Wan-Bissaka replaced by Alex Telles and Brandon Williams. It may not have been the best thought out change as Roma seemed to be getting the better of both fullbacks as they equalised through Edin Džeko on the 57th minute then took the lead through Lorenzo Pellegrini three minutes later. If it was not for De Gea making some great saves, Džeko could have scored a hat-trick with Roma back in the hunt of making the final of the UEFA Europa League this season. As it stands though, United were still 7-4 up on aggregate and needing a few goals themselves.

In the 68th minute of the match, United drew level on the evening through Cavani, scoring his 14th goal of the season, assisted by Fernandes, with his 17th assist of the season. Despite a shocking period of the match where United conceded two goals in three minutes, United seemed to weather the storm and score a second goal themselves, which is all they needed to do, eradicating Roma’s away goals from last week. Cavani was seemingly on a hat-trick but he was replaced by Marcus Rashford in the 74th minute of the match with United watching themselves and possibly utilising Rashford to keep them in with a chance of scoring goals.

United conceded a third goal in the 83rd minute of the match through debutant Nicola Zalewski, who was assisted by Davide Santon. It was the goal that put Roma 3-2 up on the night but still 8-5 down on aggregate. 13 goals had been scored in the semi-final clash over the two legs, which shows the ability of both teams. United needed to watch themselves though as De Gea was becoming the Man of the Match, despite the goals scored as he had saved so many more. Solskjaer made his fifth substitution in the 84th minute of the match with Juan Mata replacing Fernandes, who perhaps could have been rested a lot earlier in the match.

The match seemed to drop off a little as Roma saw the clock run down, along with the fact they still need three more goals from this match. Brandon Williams was booked in the second minute of added time, United’s fourth booking of the match. It was a shame United lost this match but winning 8-5 on aggregate is not something to be laughed at as the work was done in the first leg of the match. United will face Villarreal in the final of the UEFA Europa League in Gdansk, Poland as Arsenal could not score a single goal at home to add to the goal they scored in their 2-1 defeat in the first leg. No European football for Arsenal, unless there is a miracle.

United will now get themselves ready for the Premier League clash with Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday, which is going to be a must-win match for Solskjaer’s side with them needing to secure a second-placed finish in the league this season. United then face Leicester City at Old Trafford two days later, then Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams two days after that – a rescheduled match from last Sunday after the match was postponed. United will then have four days rest before facing Fulham at Old Trafford on the 18th May with five days before their final league match of the season away to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Goals: Edin Džeko 57′, Bryan Cristante 60′, Nicola Zalewski 83′; Edinson Cavani 39′, 68′

Assists: Pedro 57′, Lorenzo Pellegrini 60′, Davide Santon 83′; Fred 39′, Bruno Fernandes 68′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 46′), Bailly, Maguire, Shaw (Telles 46′); Van de Beek, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes (Mata 84′), Pogba (Matic 64′); Cavani (Rashford 73′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Henderson; Lindelof, Tuanzebe; Diallo, McTominay; Elanga

Bookings: Rick Karsdorp 72′, Bryan Cristante 84′; Aaron Wan-Bissaka 18′, Fred 58′, Edinson Cavani 72′, Brandon Williams 90+2′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – AS Roma – Home

Manchester United beat AS Roma 6-2 in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg at Old Trafford. Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring in the ninth minute but a penalty by Lorenzo Pellegrini saw United’s lead cut short. Edin Džeko then put Roma ahead 34th minute of the match. The second half was where United showed up with Edinson Cavani scoring a brace, Fernandes scoring a penalty, Paul Pogba getting a good goal and Mason Greenwood finishing the scoring to give United a four-goal lead going into the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico next Thursday. United have a foot in the door to the final.

United started well against the Italian side and were seeking to take control of the fixture. Roma lost Jordan Veretout in the fifth minute of the match after what seemed like a hamstring injury – he was replaced by Gonzalo Villar. Four minutes later, United opened the scoring with Bruno Fernandes scoring his 25th goal of the season, assisted by Edinson Cavani. It all started to go wrong for United there though. A penalty was given in the 14th minute after Paul Pogba, who was doing his defensive duties, sliding the make the clearance with an arm in the air and the ball striking it. Lorenzo Pellegrini scored from the spot in the 15th minute.

In the 28th minute ion the match, Roma lost their goalkeeper Pau López after seemingly injuring his shoulder with veteran Antonio Mirante replacing him. Just six minutes later, Roma had taken the lead for the first time in the match with Edin Džeko scoring from close-range after a defensive mistake saw Pellegrini play the ball into the forward and him finding the back of the net. It was a poor period for United, who needed to be a but more defensively astute, especially against Džeko, who has form scoring against United. Roma lost a third player through unjust in the 37th minute after Leonardo Spinazzola was replaced by Bruno Peres.

United had a few opportunities to get level again, but it was not happening for them. The advantage would be theirs in the second half though as if Roma did not make a double substitution, they would not be able to bring on any other players as the five substitutions need to be made one three occasions inn the match, and they have brought three substitutes one already in three different points of the match. If they did not make any changes during the break, that would be it for them for the remainder of the match. United still have five substitutions to make, which gives them an advantage, as long as they can do something to win the match.

Neither side made a change during the break, which means that Roma will not be able to make any for the remainder of the match, despite having two remaining. United should have made a substitution to change the flow of attack, but they will probably be left for later in the match, which time is against them. United got level in the game with Cavani scoring his 11th goal of the season, equalising in the 48th minute of the match with Fernandes getting the assist. United looked a bit more assured starting the second half, which is what was needed to take charge of this match. Clearly something was said at half time by Solskjaer.

United got a third goal of the evening with Cavani finding the back of the net for the second time this evening, adding his tally to 12 goals so far this season and it puts United in command of this fixture. The United side that turned up in the second half had started to become ruthless. After some chances on goal, United won a penalty after Chris Smalling seemed to foul Cavani in the box and Fernandes scored his second of the match and 26th of the season putting United 4-2 up. Just four minutes later, Paul Pogba, who gave away a penalty in the first half, found the back of the net to score United’s fifth goal of the match.

United pulled this victory out of the bag and punished Roma in the second half. Mason Greenwood replaced Marcus Rashford in the 73rd minute of the match, two minutes before Pogba’s goal, which put United 5-2 up. Solskjaer made another change in the 83rd minute with Nemanja Matic replacing Fred. Three minutes later, Greenwood scored United’s sixth goal of the match, surely putting the club into the final and ending their semi-final hoodoo. Solskjaer then made a third change in the last minute of the match with Juan Mata replacing Fernandes. United would travel to Rome to face Roma in the second leg with a big cushion.

United would surely need two away goals in Rome to ensure their place in the final, which could be against Villarreal or Arsenal, with that match ending 2-1 to the Spanish side in Spain. United’s goals in the second half caught Roma out, seemingly the fall or Roma and they will be thinking about that visit to the Theatre of Dreams back in April 2007 with a resurgent United winning 7-1 after a 2-1 defeat in Rome six days prior. Whatever Solskjaer said in the dressing room at half time, it worked and this United side smashed their oppositions spirit, punishing them time and time again in the second half to grab the victory.

United face Liverpool at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, which is another big encounter with United seeking to cement their second-placed finish in the league this season. Leicester City and Chelsea are both also seeking to better their league positions this season, with Leicester the closest to United – but the pair still have to play next month, which could be the decider in who takes second this season. United have turned a corner and it will be interesting to see who is still moaning after that match, which was good from start to finish. Never write United off. They can do anything at any time.

Goals: Bruno Fernandes 9′, 71′, Edinson Cavani 48′, 64′, Paul Pogba 75′, Mason Greenwood 86′; Lorenzo Pellegrini 15′ penalty, Edin Džeko 34′

Assists: Edinson Cavani 9′, 86′, Bruno Fernandes 48′, 75′; Lorenzo Pellegrini 34′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred (Matic 83′); Rashford (Greenwood 76′), Fernandes (Mata 90′), Pogba; Cavani

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Henderson; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, James, Van de Beek

Bookings: Paul Pogba 51′; Gonzalo Villar 50′, Chris Smalling 61′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – Granada – Home

Manchester United beat Granada 2-0 (4-0 on aggregate) in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford. Edinson Cavani opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the match, shinning the ball into the back of the net on the volley after Paul Pogba’s pass. Pogba was booked 11 minutes later and the Spanish side were trying to get hims sent off, which shows bad sportsmanship. United did well in the match, bringing on Donnny van de Beek, Daniel James, Juan Mata, Amad Diallo and Brandon Williams. A second goal was scored by Jesus Vallejo in the 90th minute, which secured a 4-0 aggregate victory over the Spanish club.

United started well at the Theatre of Dreams and instantly sought to hunt for an early goal against the Spanish side. United got their goal in the sixth minute of the match, putting them 3-0 up on aggregate in the tie, which gives the Spanish side an uphill struggle to make the semi-finals of the competition. Ales Telles crossed the ball into Paul Pogba, who flicked the ball into Edinson Cavani and his volley found the bottom corner of the net. It was his ninth goal of the season and his second in two matches. The ball came off Cavani’s shin but a goal is a goal and he won’t be too worried by that.

Paul Pogba was booked in the 17th minute of the match, which was a harsh booking and the Granada players seemed to orchestrate that. Minutes later and Pogba won the ball then a player fell over his legs and Roberto Soldado was vocal with the referee in trying to get Pogba sent off for a second yellow card. However, Soldado was the player that was booked. Pogba needs to be wary of the threat Granada have now which won’t stop until they get him off the pitch. Poor tactics and bad sportsmanship from the Spanish side all because they are in a losing position. Boo hoo.

Granada were forced into making their first substitution in the 32nd minute of the match with Maxime Gonalons being replaced by Jorge Molina. United were still using their attacking power to command their lead of the game and in the 34th minute, Bruno Fernandes missed the target after Nemanja Mastic delicately chipped the ball into him but his shot went over the target. Fernandes then had another chance five minutes later but Cavani’s pass bobbled on the pitch and was not received by the Portuguese magnifico. United were in a commanding position at the end of the first half but another goal should kill the game again.

At the start of the second half, Solskjaer made his first substitution with Donny van de Beek replacing Pogba after his booking in the first half of the match. Within a few minutes, Granada had an opportunity on goal but Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s face took the sting off the shot which did not trouble David De Gea. United had a chance at the other end pit the pitch with Mason Greenwood’s attempt not causing much trouble. United would need to remain wary of Granada’s threat as they have been seeking to get something from this match, despite the fact they were 3-0 down on aggregate – they were better than they were at home a week ago.

United had another effort on goal through Cavani in the 56th minute of the match with the ball ending up coming off his shoulder after Fernandes played the ball into the box. It was a shame he did not make it ten goals for the season with that – but there is still plenty of time for that to happen. Van de Beek had a good chance on goal with Greenwood running with the ball, stopping to buy some time, passing to the Dutchman but his shot was wide of the target. Solskjaer made his second substitution with Cavani being replaced by Daniel James in the 60th minute of the match. United will use James’ pace on the attack now.

Solskjaer made a third substitution in the 73rd minute of the match after Juan Mata replaced Fernandes, so United will have some fresher legs on the pitch against Burnley in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday. United won a free kick before the substitution, which Telles took and it seemed to get a deflection but the referee blew his whistle with the ball in the air. United made a double substitution in the 83rd minute of the match with Amad Diallo replacing Greenwood and Brandon Williams replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka. United should take the chance to maintain this 1-0 victory to learn the mentality of maintaining a 1-0 victory.

Amad Diallo had a good moment on the pitch, running through with the ball but slowing as he reached the box. It seemed like he was fouled, right in front of the referee but he gave nothing, despite Mata appealing. Granada then got forward and threatened United with De Gea making the save. The ball was then played up the pitch with Mata rising to make the header, the ball missing him and it deflecting off Jesus Vallejo and into the back of the net for United to go 2-0 up in this game, 4-0 on aggregate. It was a shame that Diallo was ignored by the referee after that cynical foul and I think it should have perhaps been a red card for last man.

United got the job done and will now play in the semi-final of the Europa League this season where they will face AS Roma, a team they beat 7-1 at Old Trafford back in 2007. It will be an interesting match for United, who are the favourites to lift the trophy this season. They will need to be at their best to lift the trophy but two matches lie in wait before they can think about that. Next up for United is a visit from Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday, which United will need to win to keep their cushion in second place in the league table. If Leicester City do not face West Bromwich Albion for a week, so United could end up ten points clear.

Goals: Edinson Cavani 6′, Jesus Vallejo 90′ o/g

Assists: Paul Pogba 6′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 83′), Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Telles; Fred, Matic, Pogba (Van de Beek 46′); Fernandes (Mata 73′); Greenwood (Diallo 83′), Cavani (James 60′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Henderson; Fish; Shoretire; Rashford, Elanga

Bookings: Paul Pogba 17′; Roberto Soldado 19′, German Sanchez 61′, Carlos Neva 75′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – Granada – Away

Manchester United beat Granada 2-0 in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes on Thursday evening. It was a fraught first half until Marcus Rashford, played through by a Victor Lindelof long-ball in the 31st minute of the match. Granada did not seem to be in the mood to score goals, as they had done at home in the last two knockout rounds of the competition. A late penalty scored by Bruno Fernandes, after he was seemingly fouled in the box, giving United a two away goal cushion to take back to the Theatre of Dreams next week.

Granada started the game well, launching on the attack right away, trying to get United with their pants down. Fortunately, it was not meant to be for the Spanish side. The game soon started to become lacklustre and the highlight was a streaker on the pitch in the sixth minute, who looked rather like Mohamed Salah, but it was not him, he will still be hiding after Liverpool were humiliated by Real Madrid. United had the majority of the possession in the opening 25 minutes of the match but there were no real chances that could have amounted to something, which was a worry, but something United have been known for, especially recently.

In the 31st minute of the match, not that we were able to see it live on BT Sport in England, Marcus Rashford opened the scoring, getting his 20th goal of the season so far. On replay, David De Gea fed the ball out to Victor Lindelof, who had time on the ball to think ahead. Rashford was rushing forward, remaining onside only for the Swedish international to loft a long ball up field to Rashford, who beat the Granada goalkeeper cooly to put United ahead, which ends Granada’s current form at home in the knockout stages where they have beaten both Napoli and Molde 2-0 in the first leg, losing 2-1 in the second and going through on aggregate.

United will need to make some changes next week with a flurry of yellow cards in this half. Paul Pogba was booked in the eighth minute of the match, Scott McTominay was booked in the 40th minute and Luke Shaw was booked in the 42nd minute and both McTominay and Shaw will miss the second leg through suspension, which is not the end of the world for United but it will cut Solskjaer’s options down a little next week at the Theatre of Dreams. The first half was brought to a close with United still leading 1-0, having 66% of the ball and more importantly, having eight shots, one on target resulting in the goal, two off target and five being blocked.

At the start of the second half, Solskjaer made his first substitution with Alex Telles replacing Shaw, who was booked in the first half – possibly keeping him fit for Sunday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur. Both United and Granada were trying to get something from the game in the early stages of the half with United seemingly the most comfortable team on the pitch. In the 65th minute of the match, Edinson Cavani replaced Rashford, the scorer of the only goal in the match, which will have been well-received by some with Rashford’s injury not completely recovered. United will need to retain their lead ensuring that they don’t conceded.

Harry Maguire was booked in the 72nd minute of the match, which means he will also miss the second leg because an accumulation of yellow cards in the competition. United should strive to score more goals in this match to give them a cushion next week, as United’s defence will not be as strong as it could be next week, which could see Solskjaer revert to a 3-4-1-2 formation or similar. In the 64th minute of the match, Solskjaer made his third substitution with Nemanja Matic replacing Pogba, who was on a yellow card from the eighth minute of the match. Granada have not looked like scoring in this match, which might change next week.

Nemanja Matic was booked in the 84th minute of the match for a foul, which was a harsh booking. A minute later, Solskjaer made his fourth substitute with Donny van de Beek replacing Mason Greenwood. United should, in may opinion, have given Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga a chance as United are leading, could have scored more goals and more importantly, earned both players more confidence ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford in a week’s time. United won a penalty in the 89th minute of the match with Bruno Fernandes scoring his 24th goal of the season a minute later. United got what they needed a two-goal cushion to take into next week.

No matter what those who always find something to moan about say, United won this match with two away goals, which will put them in good stead of reaching the semi-final of the competition. They will need to keep a clean sheet at Old Trafford next week, or score a few more goals to give them more of a cushion. However, the suspension of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay will be a big loss and Solskjaer will need to have a game plan to get by without the trio. It is possible that other players end up getting booked next week, which will cause more of a problem for the club. That said though, United have one foot in the door.

Solskjaer’s side will now be able to get ready for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur, who are not the team they were at the start of the season, and neither are United. This will be a battle to show the Spurs supporters that just because they scored six goals at Old Trafford, does not mean they win a trophy, which is something the club have been lacking in for many years now, winning the League Cup more than ten years ago and watching other London clubs win silverware in that time. Spurs are struggling to break into the top four this season which shows how far they have fallen and they could fall further this season.

Goals: Marcus Rashford 31′, Bruno Fernandes 90’

Assists: Victor Lindelof 31′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw (Telles 46′); McTominay, Pogba (Matic 74′); James, Fernandes, Rashford (Cavani 65′); Greenwood (Van de Beek 85′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Henderson; Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Fred, Diallo; Elanga

Bookings: Paul Pogba 8′, Scott McTominay 40′, Luke Shaw 42′, Harry Maguire 72′, Nemanja Matic 84′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – AC Milan – Away

Manchester United beat AC Milan 1-0 in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg, winning 2-1 on aggregate to earn a place in the quarter-final of the competition with the draw being held on Friday, where United will learn their fate. It was a dire first 45 minutes for United, who did not look like scoring and went into the break knowing that they would need to step up. Paul Pogba returned from injury, replacing Marcus Rashford at half time, scoring the only goal of the game in the 48th minute of the match, which saw United through. A late onslaught from Milan led to nothing for them, other than an exit from the competition.

United did not have the greatest of starts in Milan with the home side doing all they needed to do on and off the ball to keep United at bay. They were effectively winning the tie with the away goal from last week so were in a position of strength keeping United at bay. Mason Greenwood seemed to be the most potent Anointed player in the early stages of the half to cause some damage, especially with his pace, but United were not getting the right responses from the players to get an early goal. Solskjaer’s side needed to break through the Milan defence and get something to level the game, which would take some pressure off them.

Luke Shaw was an outlet of attack on the left again, which has been the case in recent matches. United had a great chance in the 12th minute of the match with Shaw playing a one-two with Marcus Rashford before Bruno Fernandes had his first sight of goal on the edge of the box but the ball eventually skipped over the crossbar. Milan then went on the attack with Pierre Kalulu losing the ball to Fred before Franck Kessie received another pass and tried his luck from distance with the ball heading into the arms of Dean Henderson. It was not really a first half to talk about other than think about the challenge that United had ahead of them.

At the start of the second half, United made a change with Marcus Rashford being replaced by Paul Pogba with the Frenchman playing on the wing, which is a gamble but something the player has been involved in before his latest injury. Almost instantly he made an impact with United forward, Fernandes played the ball to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James then received the cross but his shot was deflected wide. Fred then did well to make Milan panic with a clearance as Pogba collected the ball. He then dummied a shot before dinning the ball over Gianluigi Donnarumma to get a vital away goal for United.

United then started to find more attacking prowess as they had more chances, seeking for a cushion in their lead, which will see them through if Milan did not score. Milan then brought on former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and current loanee Diogo Dalot as the Italian side fouled Pogba more than once, with Dalot being shown a card for a foul. United may have been tempting fate by sitting on this away goal, in what has been a difficult two-legged tie for United, which is only to be expected from the Italian giants, who have not let up in this game and did not let up last week.

Five minutes were added on at the end of the match with United needing to hold on and stop Milan from getting a sight on goal. United were not able to celebrate anything as Milan were still seeking another late equaliser, which would have taken the match into extra time, which is what happened with Tottenham Hotspur in their match with Dinamo Zagreb, who were 2-0 at full time. They ended up scoring a third which saw Spurs exit the competition with Jose Mourinho not looking all that happy – but when does he? United hung on and grinned out the victory, which was good to see. Another clean sheet and a place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Goals: Paul Pogba 48′

Assists: N/A

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; James, Fernandes, Rashford (Pogba 46′); Greenwood

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea, Grant; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Matic, Van de Beek

Bookings: Pierre Kalulu 65′, Diogo Dalot 77′, Simon Kjaer 85′, Theo Hernandez 90+5′; Luke Shaw 90+3′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – AC Milan – Home

Manchester United drew 1-1 with AC Milan at Old Trafford on the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg. Milan had the ball in the net twice in the first half of the match with one being ruled out for offside and Frank Kessie’s strike disallowed for a hand ball. United were the second-best team on the pitch for the majority of the first half, which also resulted in Anthony Martial receiving a knock. Amad Diallo replaced the Frenchman at the start of the second half and within five minutes he had the ball in the back of the net from a header, beating Gianluigi Donnarumma. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United looked to keep a clean sheet and head into the second leg with the advantage. However, in the last minute of added time Simon Kjaer scored an equaliser.

United started poorly with this young Milan side getting the better of them at each opportunity. The Italian side had the ball in the back of the net rather early but the flag was raised and it was ruled offside. However, in the 11th minute of the match, Frank Kessie, who is a capable player, also found the back of the net but VAR looked at it and the referee ruled out the goal for a handball, which seemed accidental, which will be fine when the rule change comes in on the 1 July 2021. Milan were back to squad one for the second time of the half. United did not do themselves many favours with few attacking opportunities in the first half. Alex Telles had a free kick which seemed like an overhit cross but became a shot on goal from distance.

United would need to do so much better in the second half of this match and keeping a clean sheet will be a big advantage heading to the San Siro next week with United having a good chance of reaching the quarter-final stage of the competition. However, getting through this match with the injuries that United had which see Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek, Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford all on the sidelines. As if that was not bad enough Anthony Martial seemed to suffer from a knock in the first half and was limping off at the half time break. Solskjaer made his first substitution at the start of the second half which saw Amad Diallo come on in place of Martial with United needing to work some magic to get back into the match after Milan’s dominance.

Diallo had am immediate impact in the match, scoring his first goal for the club within five minutes. He ran forward, won the header and beat Gianluigi Donnnarumma from close-range to fire United ahead with 40 minutes remaining. Milan did not seem the penetrative side they were in the first half, having a few opportunities after United broke the deadlock. That said, United did not seem like they were aiming to score another goal either, despite some good attacking plays, considering the talent they are missing from this match due to injury. Solskjaer made use of more substitutions, seeking to keep his players fresh for their challenge against West Ham United in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday evening.

Inn the 73rd minute of the match Fred replaced Bruno Fernandes, having assisted Diallo in his debut goal for his club. A minute later, a double substitution of Brandon Williams and Luke Shaw replaced Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James. United looked to be seeking to keep a clean sheet, which will be a result in this tie against a resurgent Milan side, who have attacked United at every opportunity they have had. United were keeping their areas clear, despite the Italian giants getting forward and pushing towards the end of the match. Three minutes were added on at the end of the match but in the very last minute, Simon Kjaer scored the equaliser, giving Milan an away goal, which puts them in an advantageous position next week.

United will need to go all out to score goals at the San Siro, which with Cavani, Martial and Rashford currently injured of having knocks could be difficult. I am sure Solskjaer will be seeking to find out whether he could get the likes of Pogba, Van de Beek and the attacking trio back in action again with the Hammers coming to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday evening. It will be important for United to continue their winning ways in the Premier League, to make it easier to finish in the top four this season, instead of leaving it until the last game of the season to do just that. There are many positives to be had from this match but more hope with the quality of the players that are currently injured.

Goals: Amad Diallo 50′; Simon Kjaer 90+2′

Assists: Bruno Fernandes 50′; Rade Krunic 90+2′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 74′), Bailly, Maguire, Telles; Matic, McTominay; James (Shaw 74′), Fernandes (Fred 73′), Martial (Diallo 46′); Greenwood

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Bishop; Lindelof, Tuanzebe; Shoretire

Bookings: Scott McTominay 55′; Alexis Saelemaekers 18′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – Real Sociedad – Home

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg. United’s four goals in the first leg saw them through to the round of 16 in the competition. Bruno Fernandes almost scored in the first half and Axel Tuanzebe found the back of the net with a thundering header in the 63rd minute of the match but because of a Victor Lindelof foul, VAR and the referee ruled out the goal, which was a shame for the defender. Amad Diallo made his home debut with Shola Shoretire becoming the youngest United player to feature in European competition, which will be something for him to be proud of. United will find out their fate in the competition on Friday as the round of 16 draw is made.

United started well but the Spanish side has set themselves up a little differently, cautiously if you will. The away side won a penalty in the 13th minute of the match after Daniel James supposedly fouled Andoni Gorosabel inside the box but it seemed like the player stopped his run, putting his leg across James to force the foul. Mikel Oyarzabal took the penalty with Dean Henderson looking to make the dive, stopping it and watching the ball rise into the Stretford End. United almost took the lead in the 24th minute of the match but Bruno Fernandes could not place the ball into the back of the net. United have done enough to win the tie though with four goals scored in the away leg, played in Turin, last week.

In the 35th minute of the match, Fernandes played the ball into James, who was running into the box. The Welshman played his header towards goal but the goalkeeper made a precise save to deny the Welshman from his third goal in three consecutive matches. Fred was booked in the 40th minute of the match for a foul on Adnan Januzaj, giving away a free-kick which United regained possession from. United were unlucky in the first half and should have perhaps scored at least one goal, which is the same that could be said for the visitors, who scuffed up a good penalty. United were still winning 4-0 on aggregate and will be aiming to ensure they are in Friday’s draw for the round of 16 stage of the competition.

Solskjaer made a triple substitution at the start of the second half with Marcus Rashford replacing Bruno Fernandes, Axel Tuanzebe replacing Fred and Brandon Williams replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Almost four minutes into the half, Real Sociedad attempted to score, beating Henderson but not finding the back of the net. Williams became United’s second player to be booked in the match with Fred booked in the 40th minute of the first half and the right-back booked in the 49th minute. Minuted later, he fouled an opposition player once again, not getting a second booking this time. He will perhaps need to tread carefully or face being sent off this evening, which would be a lowly occasion for him.

Solskjaer made his fourth substitution in the 59th minute of the match with Amad Diallo replacing Daniel James, who had seemingly got himself a knock, which hopefully is not anything serious. United opened the scoring in the 63rd minute of the match through Axel Tuanzebe, whose header thundered into the back of the net. However, VAR looked at the incident between Victor Lindelof and Jon Bautista in which the Swede jumped up to reach the ball and collided with the Real Sociedad player, right in the face. The goal was disallowed, which was a shame for Tuanzebe and Lindelof was booked for the foul. United attempted to get a goal minutes later with Anthony Martial on the attack but nothing came of it and United were back to the drawing board.

United made their fifth substitution in the 76th minute of the match with Shola Shoretire becoming the youngest player to play for United in European competition. He replaced Mason Greenwood. United kept on trying to find a goal, which was not coming, unfortunately. Some will find some negativity from that, despite United being 4-0 up on aggregate from the first leg and the Spanish side not seeking to get a goal themselves. Perhaps keeping a clean sheet at Old Trafford will be something for the opposition to be proud of? Diallo and Shoretire got stuck into the game but expecting a lot from them is not what we need to be doing right now. They both need to find their feet inn the squad and work from there.

Goals: N/A

Assists: N/A

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 46′), Bailly, Lindelof, Telles; Matic, Fred (Tuanzebe 46′); Greenwood (Shoretire 76′), Fernandes (Rashford 46′), James (Diallo 59′); Martial

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea, Grant, Bishop; Maguire, Shaw; Galbraith

Bookings: Fred 40′, Brandon Williams 49′, Victor Lindelof 65′

2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – Real Sociedad – Away

Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg at the Juventus Stadium in Turin ons Thursday evening. United opened the scoring through Bruno Fernandes in the 27th minute of the match with the Portuguese midfielder scoring his second goal of the match in the 57th minute. Marcus Rashford scored United’s third goal in the 65th minute of the match with Daniel James finding the back of the net minutes later, but he was offside. The Welshman did get another chance, getting the fourth goal of the match in the 90th minute to complete the scoring for United, giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side a great chance to make it to the round of 16 stage of the competition.

This was a match where both teams started well with Adnan Januzaj having a shot on goal which just missed the target in the opening few minutes with Marcus Rashford also having a chance before the Spanish side registered their second shot of the match. At that stage, United started to get the Lion’s share of possession. Eric Bailly did not have the best of starts for United, after sitting out the last few matches, which obviously left him a bit rusty. Scott McTominay had a good shot on goal around the 15 minute mark of the march, which was blocked by the goalkeeper. Rashford had another shot on goal in the 18th minute of the match, which was kept in play resulting in Bruno Fernandes having a chance too, which was cleared off the line.

United took the lead in the 27th minute of the match after Rashford lofted the ball into the area which saw goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro, Igor Zubeldia and Robin Le Normand collide in the box with the ball then falling to Fernandes after touching one of the trio. The Portuguese midfielder then scored his 20th goal of the season, which was also his 32nd goal for the club since signing in January 2020. In total, Fernandes has contributed 52 goals, assisting 20 times since arriving in Manchester. What a great signing he has become. United had a few more chances, which never came to anything. It was becoming another good match for United but they will need to score a second goal, otherwise the second half could become fraught.

United doubled their lead in the 57th minute of the match with Fernandes scoring his second goal of the match, his 21st of the season. Rashford played the ball into the box with Fernandes and Daniel James waiting. Fernandes then sent the ball into the back of the net. The linesman raised the flag for offside but VAR gave the goal. Rashford then scored his 17th goal fo the season in the 65th minute after he made a perfectly timed run after Fred launched the ball from United’s half of the pitch. It was a good finish for Rashford, who was not on the ball with his chances in the first half of the match. United did score another goal through James, who finished superbly but he was offside, which was a shame. United have killed the match off, which is a good sign.

United were playing well in the second half of the match and managed to get some rest for Scott McTominay, who was replaced by Nemanja Matic in the 60th minute of the match, Marcus Rashford, who was replaced by Anthony Martial in the 65th minute of the match, Fernandes, who was replaced by Juan Mata in the 83rd minute of the match and Mason Greenwood, who was replaced by Amad Diallo in the 83rd minute of the match. United managed to scored a fourth goal in the match with Daniel James getting on the scoresheet following his offside earlier in the half. The Welshman darted down the right flank, having no passing options so decided to go straight for goal from the tightest of angles, nutmegging the goalkeeper who has denied United a few times.

United will have at least one foot inn the door to the round of 16 stage of the competition after the 4-0 victory. It showed signs of their victory over LASK in March last season which saw United 5-0 up in the first leg only to see the coronavirus pandemic stop the season for around three months with the Europa League being played out in August. Solskjaer will not have his focus on Newcastle United coming to Old Trafford on Sunday with the club ten points adrift of Manchester City in the Premier League. It was good to see Diallo come on and with the scoreline what it was, perhaps he can start in the second leg at Old Trafford where he could get himself on the scoresheet?

Goals: Bruno Fernandes 27′, 57′, Marcus Rashford 65′, Daniel James 90′

Assists: Daniel James 57′, Fred 65′, Eric Bailly 90′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; McTominay (Matic 60′), Fred; Greenwood (Diallo 83′), Fernandes (Mata 83′), James; Rashford (Martial 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea, Grant; Lindelof, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Shoretire

Bookings: Robin Le Normand 88′; Aaron Wan-Bissaka 8′

2019/20 – UEFA Europa League – Sevilla – RheinEnergieSTADION, Cologne, Germany

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Sevilla in the semi-final of the UEFA Europa League. United took the lead in the game after Marcus Rashford won a penalty which Bruno Fernandes scored. Sevilla equalised through Suso 17 minutes later. United looked lively at times but poor finishing cost them after they had many attacking chances on the bounce at the start of the second half, then looked tired. Luuk de Jong scored what turned into the winner in the 78th minute with United running empty.

United started well on the attack, aiming to find an early goal. In the seventh minute of the match United won a penalty after Anthony Martial flicked the ball further into the box with Marcus Rashford running through and his shot being saved. However, an off the ball foul on Rashford happened with a penalty being awarded, United’s 22nd of the season, Bruno Fernandes took the spot kick, putting United 1-0 up in the ninth minute of the match, scoring his 12th goal for the club this season.

In the 26th minute of the match, Sevilla equalised through Suso which had been coming with both teams attacking fluidly throughout the match so far. Lucas Ocampos slipped a great pass into Sergio Reguilon with Aaron Wan-Bissaka a yard behind with the ball being played to Suso who waiting to tap home at the near post. It was an unfortunate goal for United and they were going to need to do a lot more the get the win in this game, with a place in the final up for grabs.

It was 1-1 at the break with United still trying to find the goal to put them in the lead again. Rashford was lively for the reminder of the half but Sevilla were countering everything that United did, trying to fins the goal to put them ahead in the game also. Solskjaer would need to look at his tactics going into the break to try and find a way for United to nullify certain players for Sevilla which could be the key to winning the game. United have seemingly done everything right so far.

From the very start of the second half, United were the team going to try and take the match by the scruff of the neck, searching for that goal to put them ahead once again. The Sevilla goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou was impressive in stoping United from taking the lead for the second time in the match. United had more of the attacking in the first ten minutes of the half. The match the. started to level with end to end football. Rashford was booked for dissent in the 66th minute of the match.

Luuk de Jong took the lead for Sevilla in the 78th minute of the match with United’s defence sleeping and Victor Lindelof running towards the ball, stopping then seemingly blaming Fernandes. In the 87th minute, Solskjaer made a triple substitution with Tim Fosu-Mensah, Daniel James and Juan Mata replacing Brandon Williams, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Rashford. Six minutes of added time was to be played at the end of the match with United running out of time to find an equaliser.

Goals: Suso 26′; Bruno Fernandes 9′ (penalty)

Assists: Sergio Reguilon 26′

Manchester United:De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (James 87′), Lindelof, Maguire, Williams (Fosu-Mensah 87′); Fred; Greenwood (Ighalo 90+3′), Fernandes, Pogba, Rashford (Mata 87′); Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Romero, Grant; Bailly, Mengi; Lingard, Pereira, Matic, McTominay

Bookings:Diego Santos Silva 21′, Munir 86′; Brandon Williams 17′, Marcus Rashford 66′, Harry Maguire 86′

copyright: JW