Match Statistics: Manchester United 6-2 Roma
Manchester United fans may never be able to show their appreciation for Edinson Cavani, but the Uruguayan is making sure he leaves his mark even if he leaves this summer.
The 34-year-old scored twice and provided two more assists in a world-class display as United demolished Roma in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, and it’s clear to see why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is so desperate to keep. him at the club beyond the end of the season.
Unfortunately, this seems unlikely.
Nevertheless, after a scintillating night of work, it seems more likely that Cavani will end his short stay at Manchester with a trophy.
“Absolutely delighted with him,” Solskjaer said after the game.
The only shade of disappointment in his performance at Old Trafford on Thursday night was that he didn’t get the hat-trick he widely deserved and, as he scored United’s second and third goals on another European night memorable, there were no fans to serenade. him.
Solskjaer must have had enough of joking that his side like to make it difficult for themselves and, after a dominant start in which they sought to set the tone for the draw with an impressive eight-minute goal, it seemed to be over. again the same story. .
A questionable penalty decision against Paul Pogba and questionable defense put the visitors to Italy to a 2-1 lead at the break. Solskjaer is well aware that there will be no room for what he called “junior school mistakes” if they advance to the final. But at least this time, there was not to be any bottling on his side.
The difference to Solskjaer’s previous four semi-final defeats was the class of three players who orchestrated United’s comeback on the night: Cavani, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.
With serious doubts about the long-term future of two of those three players, the club must do everything in their power to try and keep at least one of them. Cavani seems decided, but the prospect of extending his stay by Pogba may well now be considered.
As they combined to devastating effect, Roma fans could have been forgiven for a feeling of déjà vu. They were hit seven times at this stadium in the Champions League in 2007.
There were only six here, but it certainly could have been more.
Cavani, with a sublime first time in the top corner for United’s equalizer, set the tone for an impressive second half. He was there again to give the advantage to United, a poacher after substitute goalkeeper Antonio Mirante reversed Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s shot.
It was his 50th goal in a major European club competition.
This kind of experience is essential for Solskjaer; he spoke pre-game of bringing Pogba and Cavani back into the starting XI with Fernandes. In a team fighting to win their first trophy under this manager, they know what it takes to get there.
“He’s just showing his experience,” the manager said after Cavani. “We need him at this time of the season. We want the experience to increase and he did.”
Fernandes had a quiet few weeks by his very high standards, but he was back to his brilliant best against the Serie A team; two goals – to which he added two assists – brought his season score to 26. Pogba scored the fifth with a firm header on one of those passes provided by the Portuguese.
Mason Greenwood came off the bench to score with a typically fine finish to make six and Solskjaer’s dreams of a first final as a manager look like they can finally come true.