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′
Written by John Walker