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Manchester United Books Europa League Final Spot

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Manchester United booked its place in the Europa League final as they clinched an 8-5 aggregate win against Roma, despite losing 3-2 in the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were already in a commanding position having won the opening leg 6-2 at Old Trafford, but the Norwegian called on his players to maintain their momentum by playing with confidence. Roma  heading into a hectic period of four games in eight days.

Roma needed an early goal to have any chance of staging a historic comeback but were denied after chances from Gianluca Mancini, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko. However, Edinson Cavani opened the scoring  when he latched onto Fred’s pass fired a shot into the net.

Manchester United striker Edison Cavani (7) fires his side into the lead during Europa League match against Roma

Brandon Williams and Alex Telles replaced the booked Aaron Wan-Bissaka and left-back Luke Shaw at the break, with Roma finally finding a way through in the 57th minute. After a pass came in from the left, Pedro smashed a ball into the ground and back across goal as former Manchester City striker Dzeko headed home from close range.

In the 60th minutes, Roma then claimed a 2-1 lead on the night. Fred was tackled when overplaying on the edge of his own box, with Bryan Cristante firing home a superb first-time strike.

Roma’s Bryan Cristante (L) celebrates goal with teammates during Europa League match against Manchester United

United were stunned by the quick double and only De Gea prevented them falling further behind. The 30-year-old denied Dzeko from a point-blank header and then superbly stopped Pedro’s rebound from finding the back of the net.

Cavani settled the nerves when he made it 2-2 on the night after the Uruguay striker meet a fine cross from Fernandes with a powerful header in the 68th minute.

Manchester United striker Edison Cavani scores header during Europa League match against Roma

Roma refused to throw in the towel and scored its third as Nicola Zalewski was deemed to have been fractionally onside as he met Davide Santon’s cross. The youngster volleyed the ball beyond De Gea via a deflection off Alex Telles for a consolation goal.

However, United progressed to its eighth major European final on the away goals rule after the 3-2 result.

Manchester United  will face Villarreal at the Gdansk Arena in Poland after the Spanish side overcame Arsenal in the other semi-final following a goalless draw at the Emirates.

After four semi-final defeats, it is a first final for Solskjaer as United manager.

“It feels good. We played one very good half at Old Trafford, which brought us through,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the match.

“I never like to lose a game, especially the way we did it but it was always going to be one of these games that was going to be open, with chances for both teams.”

“It could have been 6-6 or 8-6 to them! It was a strange game of football. We kept losing the ball in difficult positions but luckily we have got one of the best goalkeepers in the world and luckily we have a No. 9 who wants to score goals. Edi and David, two top performances by them,” he added.

“It’s a team effort. We’ve had some ups and downs. The second half was disappointing, very poor, but we’re in the final and we’re looking forward to May 26. It’s a one-off. Anything can happen but we’ll prepare well.”

 

Chidi Nwoke.

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