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2020/21 – UEFA Europa League – Villarreal – Final

Manchester United

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Assists:

Manchester United:

Substitutes Not Used:

Bookings:

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′

Granada CF

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′

Shola Shoretire

2020/21 – Emirates FA Cup – Leicester City – Away

Manchester United were beaten 3-1 by Leicester City in the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup ending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hope of lifting the FA Cup this season. Kelechi Iheanacho scored a brace in the match, opening the scoring and scoring the third goal of the game. Mason Greenwood equalised for United in the 38th minute of the match, giving United a chance of getting something from the match. Youri Tielemans put Leicester back in the lead and it was something that United could not cope with. They now have two weeks with no club football to get over this and the fatigue of the past few weeks with United playing two matches a week the majority of the time. The agendas will be out during that time but the snooze button will be pressed.

United started the match positively after their Italian adventure on Thursday evening which saw them reach the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League. However, Leicester soon got into the game with Jamie Vardy seeking to find an early goal, darting in behind Harry Maguire, looking for Kelechi Iheanacho in the middle but Alex Telles got inn there to clear the danger. The flag was then raised for offside. Leicester then started to gain some traction in the match with United making many sloppy mistakes. Fred was passing poorly and generally playing badly along with a few of his teammates. Leicester opened the scoring in the 24th minute with Iheanacho beating Dean Henderson after Maguire fed Fred the ball and he played it back into the box

United started to go forward to get an equaliser, playing a better brand of football with Mason Greenwood seeing Kasper Schmeichel made a save to deny him, palming the ball away. Minutes later, Maguire was booked for a challenge, which seemed a bit of a tough card, but not my decision to call. Leicester then tried to get forward again with Marc Albrighton playing the ball to the edge of the box which was eventually blocked. United got their equaliser, though Greenwood in the 38th minute of the match after Pogba beat his man, played the ball into Donny van de Beek, who stepped over the ball with Greenwood beating Schmeichel to put United level in the match. It was a good goal for the forward, his first for the club since January.

There was a few chances towards the end of the half and two minutes of added time were played. At the start of the second half, there were no changes made by either manager with the winner of this match facing Southampton in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, which will be played on either Saturday 17 April or Sunday 18 April 2021. United conceded a second goal to Leicester in the 52nd minute of the match with Youri Tielemans beating Henderson with the United goalkeeper unable to get a glove on the ball. Iheanacho got the assist for Leicester’s goal, which meant United would need to do a lot more to get level again, then seek the winner in this match. Solskjaer will not be all that impressed in what he has seen from his players.

United seemed determined to get back in the game, getting forward but not finding many chances. United won a corner, which was taken by Alex Telles, and came to nothing with Solskjaer readying four substitutions. They were made in the 64th minute with Luke Shaw replacing Telles, Scott McTominay replacing Pogba, Bruno Fernandes replacing Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani replacing Van de Beek. Albrighton became the first Leicester player to be booked in the 69th minute of the match for time wasting. Three minutes later, McTominay was booked for a challenge on Ayoze Perez, which seemed a harsh booking for the United player. United would need to dig deep and get something from this match, otherwise their FA Cup pursuit would be over.

Leicester scored a third goal which Iheanacho headed in, beating Henderson at the far post from Albrighton’s free-kick, which was misjudged by McTominay. It was such a poor goal for United to give away, they seem unable to deal with set pieces, which asks many questions of the players on the pitch and the coaches. This United side have been unlocked by Leicester too many times, which leaves the home side on top and cruising to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, giving United a free weekend in April, which might not be all that bad. Solskjaer made his final change in the 84th minute of the match with Amad Diallo replacing Fred, who did not have the best of appearances and will raise many questions about United’s midfield.

Goals: Kelechi Iheanacho 24′, 78′, Youri Tielemans 52′; Mason Greenwood 38′

Assists: Kelechi Iheanacho 52′, Marc Albrighton 78′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 64′); Matic (Fernandes 64′), Fred (Diallo 84′); Greenwood, Van de Beek (Cavani 64′), Pogba (McTominay 64′); Martial

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Williams, Tuanzebe; James

Bookings: Marc Albrighton 69′, Jonny Evans 76′; Harry Maguire 30′, Scott McTominay 72′

copyright: JW