Manchester United gave another heavy beating to Roma at Old Trafford, winning 6-2 on Thursday thanks to doubles by Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandez, who moved before the eyes of the Europa League final.
Fourteen years after being defeated 7-1 in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, Roma exploded again at home to the English team after leading 2-1 at halftime in the first match of the semifinals.
Cavani scored two of United’s five goals in the second half, with Fernandez adding a penalty to his brilliant opening for the first half before Paul Pogba and substitute Mason Greenwood also in the net.
Now United seem ready to end their struggles in the semi-finals of the big competitions under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, having lost four times in the last 16 months alone – including against Sevilla last season in the Europa League.
The other semi-final is finer, with Villarreal leading Arsenal 2-1 in the second leg next week. Both teams finished the game with 10 men.
Roma will mourn their misfortune with injuries, with midfielder Jordan Veretout, goalkeeper Pau Lopez and winger Leonardo Spinazola forced to leave in the first 37 minutes. This meant that the manager under pressure Paulo Fonseca failed to make a change after half time.
Solskjaer was a member of the United side, which defeated Roma in 2007, and is now the manager of the first United team to score at least five goals in a semi-final match in the European competition.
“I don’t feel the job is done,” he said, “but it was done well.”
As a former striker, he can’t help but be impressed by the performance of Cavani, the 34-year-old Uruguayan who gave a clinic on how to lead the line – albeit against a mandatory defense involving former United player Chris Smalling.
It was Cavani who slipped into Fernandez to lift the final over Lopez for United’s first goal in the ninth minute. And the striker gave an even better pass – with the outside of his right foot – to free Greenwood for the sixth goal in the 86th.
Cavani, meanwhile, aimed a 2-2 equalizer in the top corner shortly after half-time and came close in the 64th to give United a lead after Lopez’s substitute, Antonio Mirante, 37, fired a shot from Aaron Wang. Bisaka.
It was Cavani who was also fouled from behind by Smalling after the striker attempted a cross from Marcus Rashford’s cross to allow Fernandez to take a 4-2 lead. The Portuguese playmaker made no mistake and has now scored 20 of the 21 penalties he has taken for United since joining in January 2020.
“The goals we conceded were careless,” Smalling said, “and they really ruined what we did in the first half.”
In fact, Roma did well to retaliate from an early retreat, with Lorenzo Pellegrini scoring a penalty after handball from Pogba before helping Edin Dzeko for his usual goal at Old Trafford.
These are the sixth of five appearances at the United Stadium, after they scored there for Wolfsburg and Manchester City.