Manchester United 6 Roma 2
A thrilling, destructive five-goal second-half blitz by Manchester United against Roma sends the Reds to Italy next week with a 6-2 Europa League semi-final first-leg lead, after a sensational night at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were stunned in the first half as Roma hit back to lead 2-1 at the interval after Bruno Fernandes had put us into a ninth-minute lead.
But United were unstoppable in the second period as the visitors collapsed under the weight of the Reds' comeback with two goals from Edinson Cavani, a second from Fernandes, from the spot, a Paul Pogba header and one from substitute Mason Greenwood.
United now go to the Stadio Olimpico next Thursday with one foot in the Gdansk final after a European night to remember.
The Reds roar back against Roma Gallery
Check out our pics from a pulsating 6-2 semi-final win at Old Trafford...
FIRST HALF - GREAT START BY BRUNO BUT ROMA HIT BACK
United could not have wished for a better start with a goal of quality opening up the Italians after just nine minutes.
The manager’s decision to bring in Pogba and Cavani among his three changes from our draw at Leeds at the weekend quickly paid off. The Frenchman received a ball from Luke Shaw and spun away from his marker, glided past another, then slid a ball to the Uruguayan striker whose touch on to Fernandes was perfect. The Portuguese star’s finish matched the sublime build-up as he chipped goalkeeper Pau Lopez to make it 1-0.
But Pogba’s joy at his part in that excellent opener turned to despair, four minutes later, as he slid in to block Rick Karsdorp’s cross and the ball hit his hand. After consulting with his assistant, referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande awarded a penalty to Roma and Lorenzo Pellegrini smashed the equaliser past David De Gea from the spot.
United rallied with two efforts by Fernandes not troubling Roma, but a Pogba piledriver forced a save from Lopez to emphasise the fact the Reds had got over the shock of the leveller. Pau Lopez was hurt pulling off the save and had to be substituted to add to Roma’s earlier loss of Jordan Veretout after just three minutes.
The disruption failed to unhinge the visitors who took the lead after 33 minutes. The attack featured Reds old-boy Henrikh Mkhitaryan who outfoxed United’s defence with a cutting pass to Pellegrini. His cross was then tapped in by one-time Manchester City hitman Edin Dzeko.
United were gifted the chance of an equaliser in the last seconds of the half, as Roger Ibanez sent a stray pass to Cavani who was free in on goal. However, our striker saw his shot saved by the keeper and Chris Smalling blocked his second effort to end the first 45 minutes on another downer.
SECOND HALF - UNITED TURN THE SCREW
It may have been a disappointing ending to the first half for Cavani but he made up for it within three minutes of the restart, as he fired in the equaliser.
Fed by a lovely Fernandes ball, Cavani rifled in an unstoppable shot to make it 2-2 after 48 minutes. It was developing into a really hectic night for our no. 7 as he then scooped a great opportunity over the bar at the Stretford End from a Shaw cross after 53 minutes.
It was a really open tie with Roma not content with two goals at Old Trafford in the bag, and the Reds chasing more goals to take to Italy next week.
And it was that man Cavani who did it again, after 64 minutes, as he tapped us back in front to make it 3-2 when Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s shot was parried into his path by substitute keeper Antonio Mirante.
United were on a roll and extended the lead after 71 minutes. The referee and a VAR check confirmed a penalty to the Reds for a Smalling foul on Cavani, close to the edge of the pitch.
Fernandes stepped up to net his second of the night, firing home from the spot as he normally does!
Old Trafford would have been shaking under normal circumstances as the Reds turned the screw and Pogba headed in our fifth after 75 minutes from a second assist from Fernandes to add to his two goals before Greenwood completed rout by running on to a lovely ball by Cavani and beating Mirante for number six.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Shaw; Fred (Matic 83), McTominay; Rashford (Greenwood 76), Fernandes (Mata 89), Pogba; Cavani.
Subs not used: Henderson, Grant, Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe, Williams, Amad, James, van de Beek.
Goals: Fernandes 9, 71 (pen), Cavani 49, 64, Pogba 75, Greenwood 86.
Roma: Pau Lopez (Mirante 27), Smalling, Cristante, Ibanez, Karsdorp, Diawara, Veretout (Villar 5), Spinazzola (Bruno Perez 37), Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Dzeko.
Subs not used: Fuzato, Santon, Mayoral, Kumbulla, Carles Perez, Ciervo, Darboe.
Goals: Pellegrini 14 (pen), Dzeko 33.
Bookings: Villar, Smalling