Double strikes from Cavani and Fernandes lead spectacular second-half United fightback

Manchester United

Updated: 27/02/2024

UEFA Europa League semi-finals first-leg

Manchester United 6 Roma 2 – Old Trafford – Thursday, 29 April 2021

A scintillating second-half comeback helped Manchester United gain a healthy advantage in their semi-final tie against Roma after the Red Devils finished the first leg with a crushing 6-2 win over their Italian rivals at the Old Trafford on Thursday night.

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The hosts opened the scoring in the 9th minute when a first-time pass from Edinson Cavani released Bruno Fernandes who lifted the ball delicately over on-rushing goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

United's dream start was short-lived as Paul Pogba was harshly penalized for handball while sliding in to block Rick Karsdorp's cross. Lorenzo Pellegrini finished emphatically from the spot to bring Roma on level terms in the 15th minute.
The ghosts of four successive semi-final defeats in 15 months came back to haunt Ole Solksjaer as Roma found their second away goal in the 33rd minute from a a splendid team effort.

Leonardo Spinazzola was seen careening down the left flank and releasing the ball to Henrikh Mkhitaryan who found Pellegrini in behind as he squared for Edin Dzeko to bundle in his sixth goal at the Old Trafford.

Cavani almost levelled before half-time when he intercepted center-back Ibanez's callous pass, but the Uruguayan was thwarted by substitute Roma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante before Amadou Diawara blocked his follow-up shot from the rebound.

United came back strong after the break and found the much-needed equalizer in the 48th minute when Cavani curled in a snap effort into the top corner after a series of intricate exchanges with Fernandes.

The goal opened the gates for more as Cavani restored United's advantage with a tap-in after Mirante failed to collect Aaron Wan-Bissaka's drive cleanly.

The Red Devils extended their lead to four on 71 minutes when former United defender Chris Smalling was penalized for a foul on Cavani inside the box and Fernandes was there as usual to convert the resultant spot kick.

With Roma completely out of sorts, Pogba glanced in a header from an inch-perfect Fernandes cross to add a fifth on 75 minutes.

Mason Greenwood turn the knife deeper into the visiting Italians with a sixth from a deflected strike in the 86th minute as United go into the return leg in Rome with a huge four-goal advantage.

MANCHESTER UTD playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation: De Gea (goal); Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred (Matic 83); Rashford (Greenwood 76), Fernandes (Mata 89), Pogba; Cavani.

Subs not used: Grant, Henderson, Bailly, Diallo, James, Telles, Williams, Van de Beek, Tuanzebe.

ROMA playing in a 3-4-2-1 formation: Lopez (Mirante 28) (goal); Smalling, Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Diawara, Veretout (Villar 5) Spinazzola (Peres 37); Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko

Subs not used: Fuzato, Santon, Mayoral, Kumbulla, Perez, Ciervo, Darboe.

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