Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes scored two goals apiece as Manchester United came from behind to beat Roma 6-2 in a thrilling first leg of their Europa League semi-final.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side began well and took the lead through Bruno Fernandes’ fine finish after trading passes with the Uruguayan.
But the Italians levelled six minutes later when Paul Pogba was penalised for a handball with Lorenzo Pellegrini scoring from the spot.
Despite losing Jordan Veretout, Leonardo Spinazzola and goalkeeper Pau Lopez to injury in the first half, Roma took the lead against the run of play when Pellegrini turned provider to set up former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko from close range.
Solskjaer chose not to make any changes at the break despite his side looking flat. But his decision was vindicated as they soon levelled in the second half courtesy of a stunning first-time finish from Cavani from Fernandes’ weighted pass.
The former Napoli striker grabbed his 12th of the season from close range after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s low shot was parried.
Former United defender Chris Smalling then conceded a penalty with a tackle on Cavani and Fernandes stepped up to rifle home the spot-kick.
Fernandes was involved again for his side’s fifth goal with a delicious cross which was headed in by Pogba.
And substitute Mason Greenwood scored the sixth from Cavani’s pass to seal the rout to put United in total control going into next Thursday’s second leg.
TALKING POINT – United need to convince Cavani to stay at least another year
The striker is out of contract in the summer and there has been speculation he may leave. His impact has been immense and he is the target man and consistent finisher this side has desperately needed since Romelu Lukaku’s departure in 2019.
His first goal was another world-class finish while his second showed the poaching instincts that make him a better number nine option than Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
And his assist for Greenwood’s goal was special, he remains a class act at 34 years old.
Edinson Cavani of Manchester United celebrates
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Edinson Cavani (Manchester United): A memorable performance and his best in a United shirt. With his side 2-1 down at the break and facing another miserable semi-final, he turned it around dramatically along with Fernandes.
MAN UTD: De Gea 4, Wan-Bissaka 6, Lindelof 5, Maguire 5, Shaw 6, McTominay 5, Fred 4, Rashford 5, Fernandes 10, Pogba 8, Cavani 10…Subs: Matic n/a, Greenwood 7, Mata n/a.
ROMA: Pau Lopez n/a, Smalling 7, Cristante 7, Karsdorp 6, Ibanez 7, Diawara 5, Veretout n/a, Spinazzola n/a, Pellegrini 8, Mkhitaryan 6, Dzeko 7. Subs: Villar 6, Mirante 3, Peres 5.
9′ – GOAL FOR UNITED! Fernandes trades passes with Cavani and chips it over the keeper from nside the box. Lovely goal.
15′ – ROMA SCORE THE PENALTY! Pogba is penalised for handball. Pellegrini fires it beyond De Gea.
34′ – GOAL FOR ROMA! Pellegrini in plenty of space in the box squares it to Dzeko who taps it in from close range.
48′ – GOAL FOR UNITED! Cavani with a lovely first time finish into the roof of the net from Fernandes’ weighted pass.
71′ – UNITED SCORE THE PENALTY! Cavani is tripped by Smalling and its a penalty. Fernandes steps up and hammers it into the corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.
75′ – GOAL FOR UNITED! Pogba with a header from Fernandes’ cross and its five!
86′ – GOAL FOR UNITED! Greenwood scores the sixth from Cavani’s deft pass to seal the rout with a shot the kepeer should have saved.
- United have not lost at home in a European semi-final since 1997 when they were defeated 0-1 by Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League.