Man Utd hammer Roma 6-2 in Europa League semi-final

Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani both scored twice as Manchester United came from behind to take a major step towards sealing a place in next month’s Europa League final.

Fernandes gave United a perfect start in their semi-final with Italian side Roma when he swept home Cavani’s first-time lay-off.

Paul Pogba’s handball allowed Lorenzo Pellegrini to equalise before the Roma skipper’s pass allowed former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko to score his sixth goal in five Old Trafford appearances to turn the tie on its head by half-time.

But United rallied after the break. Cavani levelled with a superb first-time effort before tapping the hosts back in front when substitute keeper Antonio Mirante pushed Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s angled shot into his path.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were in no mood to let their advantage slip a second time, although it took a fortunate penalty for what seemed to be an innocuous Chris Smalling tackle on Cavani to give Fernandes the chance add a fourth from the spot.

Pogba then powered home a precise header from Fernandes’ cross before Greenwood ran on to Cavani’s pass and drove home United’s sixth, making them the first side to score six goals in a major European semi-final since Real Madrid in the 1964 European Cup.

The final scoreline did not quite match United’s epic 7-1 Champions League triumph against the same opponents in 2007 but for Solskjaer, a substitute on that famous night, it was just as sweet.

After four successive semi-final defeats in 15 months, the Norwegian really needs to get beyond that stage to silence his doubters, some of whom were never convinced he should have succeeded Jose Mourinho as United boss and point to an absence of silverware that both his predecessor and Louis van Gaal delivered in shorter reigns at the club.

Solskjaer’s double fist-pump reaction to Cavani’s equaliser underlined the importance of the Uruguayan’s superb effort, swept into the top corner and part of a two-goal, three-assist contribution from the striker, whose contract expires in the summer.

For once, it meant Fernandes had to share top billing as he claimed two assists to go with his brace – although after a below-par couple of months, the Portuguese seems to have recovered his form at the right time.

Pogba is United’s other big-name player and the midfielder ended an up-and-down night very much on the positive side, celebrating his header in style as the pressure was released.

Greenwood’s effort means only a catastrophe in the second leg can prevent United reaching their eighth European final.  – BBC

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