Manchester United racked up a comprehensive 6-2 victory in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League clash against AS Roma.
Bruno Fernandes got the hosts off to the best possible start as he finished off a great team move just before the ten-minute mark. However, the lead did not last long as Lorenzo Pellegrini equalised from the penalty spot following a handball from Paul Pogba. Edin Dzeko then completed a sensational first-half turnaround for the Italians as he slotted home from close range.
The drama was not finished though as Edinson Cavani equalised shortly after the break with a wonderful, swept finished, whilst he then reacted first to reclaim the lead for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood were also on the scoresheet to secure a thumping success for the Red Devils.
Here are five things we learned from the game:
Bruno back on the scoresheet
Whilst Fernandes has been inspirational for Manchester United this season, he has not been in the best of form as of late. He has scored just two goals since late February, with both of those strikes coming from the penalty spot.
However, he showed no sign of any hesitation in-front of goal as he rounded off a great team move and lifted the ball home in the first-half, whilst also netting a penalty with just under 20 minutes to go.
Cavani sends Red Devils reminder
With all of the speculation surrounding his future and a potential departure from Old Trafford, veteran striker Cavani keeps sending reminders over what he can offer. His curling finish, after Fernandes’ pass, was stunningly clinical, whilst he also played a part in the Red Devils’ opening strike at Old Trafford – playing a perfect ball for the Portuguese midfielder. Cavani was then also on hand to convert again after Mirante’s poor parry, then also managing to set Greenwood away for the Red Devils’ sixth.
He now has 12 goals in all competitions, having struck five times in as many matches in all competitions recently.
Dzeko haunts United again
It goes without saying that Bosnian forward Dzeko would have been extremely keen to score given his prior Manchester City allegiances. After all, he had never failed to score when appearing at Old Trafford.
He extended that record once again as he got on the end of Pellegrini’s ball to convert just yards out, a goal that would certainly have been satisfying despite his team having gone on to lose the match quite heavily.
Roma hit by injuries
Whilst the result was certainly not to the Italians’ liking in Manchester, their evening was also massively hampered by injuries. Paulo Fonseca lost three men to injuries in the first period alone.
Jordan Veretout was withdrawn within the opening few minutes, whilst goalkeeper Pau Lopez also followed him off with an apparent shoulder injury. The substitutions were not finished there though as marauding full-back Leonardo Spinazzola came off before the break.
Those alterations certainly harmed their chances of winning the match.
Semi-final curse over?
Much has been made of Solskjaer’s inability to lift silverware so far at Old Trafford. In fact, the Red Devils have never progressed beyond the semi-finals in any competition under the Norwegian. However, that run looks now set to end having racked up a comprehensive victory ahead of their trip to Rome for the away leg.
It would take a monumental collapse from the Premier League outfit for them to not reach the final in Gdansk. They can now be backed at a price of 1/1 with Betfair to win the competition.
Manchester United: De Gea (6); Shaw (6), Maguire (7), Lindelof (7), Wan-Bissaka (7); Fred (7) (Matic (N/A), 83′), McTominay (6), Pogba (8); Fernandes (8) (Mata (N/A), 90′), Rashford (6) (Greenwood (7), 76′), Cavani (9).
AS Roma: Lopez (6) (Mirante (4), 28′); Spinazzola (8) (Peres (5), 37′), Smalling (5), Cristante (4), Ibanez (4), Karsdorp (5); Veretout (N/A) (Villar (5), 5′), Diawara (6), Pellegrini (7); Mkhitaryan (5), Dzeko (7).
Goals: Fernandes (9′, 71′ PEN), Pellegrini (15′ PEN), Dzeko (33′), Cavani (50′, 64′), Pogba (75′)
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Yellow Cards: Villar (50′), Pogba (51′), Smalling (61′)
Red Cards: N/A
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