Manchester United progressed into their fifth semi-final under Ole Gunnar Solskjær as they beat Granada 2-0 at Old Trafford in the second-leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.
Edinson Cavani opened the scoring five minutes from the outset, when his impressive left-footed volley found the bottom right-hand corner. It was not until the 90th minute where they added the second, but it was an own goal from Jesús Vallejo which doubled the lead for United.
It was another routine performance and win for United, as they won their fourth game in a row, won the tie 4-0 over the two legs and made one step closer to silverware under Solskjær.
Story of the game
It was an impressive start for The Reds, who scored within five minutes of the whistle, with Edinson Cavani securing his ninth goal for United, with a lovely volley into the bottom right corner.
Alex Telles lifted the ball into the box towards Paul Pogba and the Frenchman expertly headed the ball back towards Cavani, who had bags of space inside the area and that is the one thing you don’t want to give the Uruguayan. He found the back of the net with a left-footed volley and gave United an early lead.Embed from Getty Images
Yangel Herrera looked to get his side back in the tie and he went close twice within minutes of the goal. Firstly, the attacking midfielder headed just wide from a corner and then he struck a powerful shot from the edge of the area but it sailed over the bar.
On 16 minutes, Pogba was driving through the centre of the pitch but similarly to the incident between Scott McTominay and Heung-min Son last weekend, an unusual foul was given against The Reds and Pogba saw himself get an early yellow card.
It was just minutes later that the Granada players surrounded István Kovács after Pogba made another challenge, but it was not worthy of a second yellow. However, it did lead to him being substituted at half-time, with Donny van de Beek coming on for him.
United continued to control the flow of the game in the first half and Bruno Fernandes went close with a speculative effort on 33 minutes.
Nemanja Matic played a wonderful pass over the top of the Granada backline and found the Portuguese, who made the run towards the back post. He struck a first time volley which narrowly went over the crossbar and would’ve been a special goal if it had found the target.
The hosts almost doubled their lead just before the half-time whistle. After some impressive link-up play on the left side, Pogba made his way towards the penalty area, the Frenchman supplied Fernandes, who could’ve shot but instead the midfielder overplayed it, attempting a dink over the defence to Cavani, but the striker checked his run and the chance was ruined.
In the second half, there were multiple early chances for both sides, with Jorge Molina and Mason Greenwood going close for their respected teams.Embed from Getty Images
A cross from Granada’s right side found Molina at the back post but the veteran forward was unable to aim his header towards the corners and instead it was a routine save for David de Gea.
Then a trademark counter-attack saw United progress quickly into the final third and substitute, van de Beek, crossed the ball from the right towards Greenwood in the box, but he couldn’t generate the power in his header to trouble Rui Silva.
The Dutchman then went from being close to providing a pass for a goal to being close to scoring one himself. His low-driven shot from the edge of the area whizzed past the post after Greenwood carried the ball from inside his own half.
While they did not see much of the ball, Granada saw another chance go close on 65 minutes, as their captain, Germán Sánchez, swivelled and then dragged his shot just wide following a long ball into the area.
The game remained in United’s control but there was little enjoyment in the final third for either side, that was until the hosts doubled their lead in the 90th minute of the match as Jesús Vallejo headed the ball into his own net.
The goal came just after a great chance at the other end for Granada and it was, again, Herrera who went close for the visitors as he headed towards the goal from close range but De Gea saved well to ensure his clean sheet. United went up the other end and doubled their lead after Telles crossed the ball towards Juan Mata, but it was the defender who found the back of his own net and gave United the 2-0 win.
Fifth time’s the charm?
The 4-0 victory over the two legs against the Spanish side means that The Red Devils have progressed into their fifth semi-final under Ole Gunnar Solskjær. They will be facing Roma and anything but progression to the final of the tournament will be a disappointment.
Without a trophy since the Europa League victory in 2017 under Jose Mourinho, Man United will need to turn their semi-final entries into trophy wins and it looks as if they could do so this season.
It was a dominant performance across the two-legs from Solskjær’s men, and with many key players, such as Marcus Rashford, getting important rest tonight, it was a successful night at the office for the hosts.