Paulo Fonseca stood in the rain looking like an honorary Mancunian with his flat cap trying to understand everything. Roma had come to Old Trafford and scored two away goals, but leaked six to Manchester United.
Barring a disaster at the Stadio Olimpico next week, it will be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and not Fonseca who will lead his team to the Europa League final in Gdansk. It was a night for the old stagers at Old Trafford.
For Eden Dzeko to threaten United with more misery in the semi-final and for Edinson Cavani to shoot Roma out of the way in a stormy second half for Solskjaer’s side. In doing so, they became the first team to score six goals in a major European semi-final since Real Madrid in the European Cup in May 1964. It was not quite on par with United’s 7-1 Champions League victory over Roma 14. years old ago, but it will work.
Manchester United produced a stunning second half comeback, beating Roma 6-2 – after trailing 2-1 at half time
The Red Devils were 2-1 behind the Italians at half time, but scored five goals in the second half to put one foot in the Europa League final
Edinson Cavani made it 2-2 with a finish in the top corner just after half time, before putting United 3-2 ahead with a tap-in
Bruno Fernandes then added a fourth before further attacks from Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood ordered United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s semifinal curse may be over as United set to make their first final under their Norwegian manager
AGREEMENT AND REVIEWS
MANCHESTER UTD (4-2-3-1): De Gea 6; Wan-Bissaka 6.5, Lindelof 6, Maguire 7, Shaw 6.5; McTominay 6, Fred 6 (Matic 83); Rashford 6.5 (Greenwood 76, 6.5), Fernandes 7.5 (Mata 89), Pogba 7; Cavani 8
Subs: Grant, Henderson, Bailly, Diallo, James, Telles, Williams, Van de Beek, Tuanzebe.
Scorers: Fernandes 9, pen 69, Cavani 48, 64, Pogba 75, Greenwood 86
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 7
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Lopez 6.5 (Mirante 28, 4); Smalling 5.5, Cristante 6, Ibanez 5; Karsdorp 7, Diawara 6, Veretout 5.5 (Villar 5, 6) Spinazzola 6.5 (Peres 37, 6); Pellegrini 7, Mkhitaryan 6.5; Dzeko 6.5.
Subs: Fuzato, Santon, Mayoral, Kumbulla, Perez, Ciervo, Darboe.
Scorers: Pellegrini pen 14, Dzeko 34
Booked: Villar, Smalling
Manager: Paulo Fonseca 5
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (Spain) 5
They fell short four times in the semifinals under the Norwegian and this would be a decent way to end that run.
Attempt No. 5 looked rather uncertain last night as 35-year-old Dzeko put the Italians ahead before half-time with his eighth goal against United for Manchester City, Wolfsburg and Roma over the course of three decades.
But United has a pretty decent striker of its own. Cavani scored twice and had two more for Bruno Fernandes to certainly put the draw past Fonseca and his team.
He may be 34 now, but Solskjaer must do everything he can to persuade him to stay another season. A striker with Cavani’s power will be hard to find for the right price this summer.
United’s first goal came in the ninth minute and what a fantastic attempt it was.
Three of their big players combined to score it and Paul Pogba started the move after a pass from Luke Shaw.
Pogba turned over former United defender Chris Smalling and drove past Amadou Diawara before sliding the ball to Cavani.
The Uruguayan produced a superb pass to Fernandes that Paul Lopez drew before pushing the ball beautifully over the Roma goalkeeper.
At the time, the Italians looked a bit ragged after losing midfielder Jordan Veretout early on when he retired from a leg injury.
But they were right within four minutes of Fernandes’ goal when Pogba was penalized for handball.
Was there any intention of the Frenchman when he slid in to block a Rick Karsdorp cross and deflect the ball to his right hand? No. Did he have time to get it out of the way? Not again.
But the hand was raised in an unnatural position, the ball hit him and Spanish referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande pointed to the spot after consulting his assistant.
Lorenzo Pellegrini did the rest when he beat David de Gea who was betting in the right direction but not known for his penalty save.
Fernandes scraped a shot wide before Lopez hurt his left shoulder and knocked Pogba’s attempt away from 25 yards, becoming the second Roma player to take off in the first half, closely followed by Leonardo Spinazzola.
Bruno Fernandes put United in the lead in the ninth minute after a well-developed action involving Pogba and Cavani early on.
Lorenzo Pellegrini scored from 11 yards to level Roma in the 15th minute after falling behind in the ninth minute.
Pogba was then penalized for the ball that hit his hand after blocking a cross from Roma right-back Rick Karsdorp
Former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko scored again at Old Trafford when he put Roma ahead 2-1 in the 33rd minute
The striker tapped in from close range after moving away from United’s defenders to complete a nice move by the visitors
Not before Spinazzola had made the point that led to Roma taking a shocking lead in the 34th minute. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, another former United man, played an excellent reverse pass to Pellegrini and he aimed the ball for Dzeko who forced himself between Harry Maguire and Shaw to score from close range.
Cavani lost a chance to level United at half time when Roger Ibanez sent him the ball in front of goal, but he was twice rejected by substitute goalkeepers Antonio Mirante and Smalling. It was about the only thing Mirante did well.
Cavani, however, needed less than three minutes of the second half to make it up, as United scored another beautiful goal.
Nevertheless, Roma was forced to make three changes in the first half, including number 1 goalkeeper Pau Lopez
Cavani swept the ball to the back of the net for Utd’s third place finish after being spilled by substitute goalkeeper Antonio Mirante
The former Paris Saint-Germain forward grabbed a through ball from Pogba and passed the ball to Fernandes. He played it back to Cavani, who took the shot in his stride and swept it into the top corner for the first time.
Scott McTominay came close to scoring a goal at both ends of the field before Cavani got his second after a bout of United pressure and a goalkeeper error in the 64th minute.
Fernandes passed the ball to Aaron Wan-Bissaka who fired a weak shot that sent Mirante straight to Cavani’s feet and he scored into the empty goal.
Fernandes scored from eleven yards after Chris Smalling was harshly judged to have brought down Cavani in the penalty area
Greenwood came off the bench to rub salt on their wounds when United made it 6-2, giving them a huge advantage in the first leg.
He was then involved in the incident that led to United winning a rather accidental penalty kick when Smalling slipped in to challenge him close to the home line.
Cavani had not made contact with Marcus Rashford’s pass and the two players were almost off the field, but the Spanish referee pointed to the spot again and Fernandes converted.
Pogba headed United to an impressive lead when he met Fernandes’ cross from a close angle, and substitute Mason Greenwood took the sixth with a shot that somehow allowed Mirante to squeeze through his grip.
This is an inconsistent United team, as we’ve seen more than two halves here again, but they certainly can’t blow a four-goal lead in Rome.
LIVE ALL THE ACTIONS OF OLD TRAFFIC AGAIN