Manchester United travelled to Rome and while they were defeated 3-2 by Rome, they progressed into the final of the Europa League, winning the tie 8-5 overall. The Red Devils made difficult work of the game and David de Gea needed to have an impressive performance between the sticks.
The second leg of this semi-final tie might’ve seemed to be over before the whistle was blown, but a valiant performance from Roma was evident throughout the encounter and they were able to make it a scare for the visitors.
Ultimately though, Ole Gunnar Solskjær was able to provide rest for some of his key men, as well as lead his side to their first final during his tenure. It might’ve been their first loss since late March, but with three games in five days in the last stretch of their Premier League campaign, United will be happy to enter the final.
The Reds will face Villarreal in Poland, as the Spanish side bypassed Arsenal in their semi-final clash.
Story of the game
It was Roma who dominated the opening proceedings at Stadio Olimpico, with United starting another game slowly. The hosts went close to opening the scoring just three minutes in, but David de Gea produced a stunning save from close-range.
A free-kick made it’s way into United’s box and landed at Gianluca Mancini’s feet, but the midfielders effort was well-saved by the Spaniard, who showed his great reactions to deny the opposition.
Roma continued to probe the United defence, and were close to going ahead after 30 minutes, when Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s header went wide after a stunning cross from ex-Chelsea man, Pedro.
However, United also began to grow into the game as the game progressed and Edinson Cavani went close to scoring for the Reds twice in close succession.
On 19 minutes, the United striker was found over the top of the defence by Fred, but his attempted chip could only find the roof of the net — six minutes later, it was Bruno Fernandes who delivered a gorgeous outside-of-the-foot pass to his striker, he opted for power this time but couldn’t find the corners and it was saved.
However, with strikers like Cavani, they might miss chances, but they keep going and it was the Uruguayan who gave United the lead after 38 minutes.
After Pogba won the ball back for the Reds in a deeper area, Fred bypassed the Roma midfield with a neat one-two with his Portuguese partner, and then supplied Cavani through the centre. His first touch set him well and his second touch smashed the ball past Antonio Mirante and gave Cavani his sixth goal in as many games.Embed from Getty Images
While the Reds went in front and made the mountain to climb for Roma even steeper, the hosts still remained focused on keeping a strong performance and they were close to equalising just two minutes after United went ahead.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan found himself with the ball in the United box after a quick counter-attack, but again, de Gea did ever-so-well to deny the ex-United man as he helped his side go into the break in the lead.
However that lead was not long protected and Roma were able to equalise through Edin Džeko on the 56th minute. The former-Manchester City striker headed home after a fierce cross from Pedro on the right.Embed from Getty Images
Then, things got a little interesting as Bryan Cristante put the hosts 2-1 in front. Fred was dispossessed on the edge of his box and the Roma midfielder fired the ball into the far corner.
United still boasted a three goal lead in the tie, but an onslaught of Roma attacks in the minutes after they went ahead would’ve made some United fans nervous. It was some more excellent goalkeeping from de Gea to ensure that there was no upset.
The United number one made a double save after shots from Džeko and Pedro and then denied Mkhitaryan less than a minute later, however, he might’ve not known about this save as much as it bounced off of his leg and went agonisingly wide of the post for the hosts.
United’s nerves were settled in the 67th minute though, as Cavani scored his, and United’s, second of the game. His darting run at the back post was found expertly but Fernandes and then he guided the ball into the corner of the net with his head to make the game 2-2.
However, Roma did not lie down and took the lead through a goal from 19-year-old Nicola Zalewski. The substitute fired a shot towards goal after a cross to the back post and his shot was helped in through an Alex Telles deflection. It was 3-2 to the hosts and they showed fighting spirit.
Unfortunately for them, that just wasn’t enough to close the defecate and while they caused United to lose their first match since the 21st of March, United progressed into the final of the competition.
Into the final
It was not very pretty, but United are into the final of the Europa League and look to be favourites going into the affair. Solskjaer’s men were never going to not score in this second leg, and that made things all the more difficult for Roma.
The next focus for the Reds will be to secure their place in second with a hectic schedule ahead of them, and then once they have their place secured, they will turn their focus back to this competiton, where they could win their first trophy since 2017.
See you on the 26th of May.