Cavani, Fernandes help Man Utd put one foot in Europa League final

Date published: Thursday 29th April 2021 9:55 - James Marshment

Man Utd celeb, Bruno Fernandes, v Roma Europa League semi-final

Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes were at their brilliant best as Manchester United overturned a half-time deficit to destroy Roma 6-2 in the Europa League semi-final first leg at Old Trafford.

In a match that will have shades of their 7-1 tanking of Roma in the 2007 Champions League, United turned on the style to thrash the Italians once again, with Cavani and Fernandes both setting the tone.

United made a dream start when Fernandes handed them the lead after just eight minutes. The goal was crafted by Paul Pogba, who cut in from the left and fed in Edinson Cavani. His deft through-ball to Fernandes was measured to perfection and he lifted a wonderful finish over Pau Lopez. It was his 25th goal of a brilliant season.

Their joy, however, was short-lived when Roma were awarded a penalty. The spot-kick was awarded after Pogba was penalised for a handball, while sliding in to block a cross. Lorenzo Pellegrini calmly slotted home to level matters.

Fernandes then flashed a free-kick over the bar from a difficult angle as United searched for a second. Pogba then saw a fierce drive well saved by Lopez. However, the Spanish keeper landed awkwardly and sustained a shoulder injury which forced his substitution.

But with 33 minutes on the clock it was Roma who took the lead. Pellegrini this time turned provider when his cross was turned in by veteran goal poacher Edin Dzeko from close range. But questions will surely be asked by the AWOL Aaron Wan-Bissaka, after Leonardo Spinazzola was allowed to carry the ball 40 yards down the left wing in the build-up.

United had a great chance to go into the half-time interval level when the ball was presented to Cavani. However, his shot was well blocked by veteran substitute goalkeeper Antonio Mirante.


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Man Utd come on strong in second half

United were back on terms three minutes back into the second half. A quick break saw the ball find Cavani. He played in Fernandes and his no-look pass picked out the run of the Uruguayan who slotted magnificently into the top corner.

Scott McTominay then found himself in a nice position inside the area; his first-time cross-cum-shot almost being turned in. It was a similar situation at the other end when Pellegrini tried to find Dzeko, with Harry Maguire scrambling the ball to safety.

United then restored the lead after 63 minutes when Cavani turned the ball home from close range. The goal was created by Pogba, who fed Wan-Bissaka on the right. His shot was parried back into the six-yard box where Cavani did not need asking twice.

Dzeko then saw a glancing header force David De Gea into a difficult save.

United though made it 4-2 in the 70th minute when Smalling was adjudged to have fouled Cavani in the box. The decision looked a little harsh, but Fernandes did not need asking twice as he despatched from the spot.

Pogba then added a fifth with a smart header following Fernandes’ cut-back after a well-worked corner.

United went searching for a sixth and it duly arrived four minutes from time when Mason Greenwood raced through on goal and showed a composed finish.

The second leg takes place in Rome next Thursday and United will be confident of booking their place in the final in Gdansk, Poland on May 26.

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