Manchester United are on the verge of their first-ever final under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a dramatic 6-2 comeback win against Roma at Old Trafford.
Recall that United have lost four semifinals under the Norwegian since he took over from Jose Mourinho in 2019, including last season’s Europa League heartbreak to the eventual winner, Sevilla.
The Red Devils returned to the same level they were knocked out last season, hoping to break the semifinal jinx and got to a good start with Bruno Fernandes’ eight-minute opener.
But Roma were bent on avenging the 7-1 demolition at Old Trafford in April 2007 in the Champions League against Sir Alex Ferguson’s United and levelled up moments later.
A handball from Paul Pogba gave the visitors a penalty which Lorenzo Pellegrini converted in the 15th minute to usher in the dramatic scenes.
Roma took the lead against the run of play in the 33rd minute through United’s old foe, Edin Džeko, after a poor defensive play from the hosts.
Optajoe reports that the former Manchester City striker has now scored six goals in his last five appearances against Manchester United at Old Trafford, netting five in his last three games there.
United went into the break with their heads bow as Solkjaer’s baby face oozed frustration but his team came back firing and quickly turned the game around three minutes into the second half.
Edinson Cavani pulled United level with a brilliant finish from a Fernandes assist, to open the floodgates for United as they ran riot against the Italian side.
The Uruguayan might be undecided about his Old Trafford future but he sure showed Solskjaer why they need him around as he gave United the lead for the second time in the game in the 64th minute.
A foul on Cavani ex-United defender, Chris Smalling, in the Roma box led to a second penalty in the game but this time, in favour of the Red Devils, and Fernandes wasted no time in converting the PK in the 71st minute.
Pogba who gave away United’s first lead made up for his mistake by slotting in the fifth goal for the hosts with a timely header four minutes later.
But United weren’t done as Cavani passed the baton to substitute, Mason Greenwood who buried the chance to make it 6-2 for the hosts in the eight-goal thriller.
Optajoe added that Greenwood has now scored 27 goals for Manchester United in all competitions, the third-most of any player in the club’s history before turning 20 after Norman Whiteside (39) and George Best (37).
Man Utd have scored six goals in a single match in European competition for the first time since netting seven against Roma in April 2007; they are the first side to net as many in a major European semi-final since Real Madrid in the European Cup in May 1964, Optajoe added.
United go into the second leg with a foot in the final and would be hoping to finish off their Italian opponents when they meet in Rome next week.
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