Manchester United continued their dominant and ruthless showing in the Europa League, as they demolished a Roma side, who were forced to make three substitutes in the first half of the game due to unfortunate injuries. With this 6-2 victory at Old Trafford, it leaves the Red Devils with one foot into the Europa League finals and not much to worry about for the second leg in Italy next week.
The hosts got off to the perfect start with a goal in the ninth minute through Bruno Fernandes, who was smartly found by Edinson Cavani before chipping the ball over Pau Lopez. However, the team conceded two cheap goals through individual errors and poor defensive awareness as the Italian side were able to achieve two away goals and most importantly the lead, ten minutes before the break.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men meant business and came out with the right mindset after the half-time break, leading to a crucial equaliser from Cavani three minutes into the second half, who produced a world-class finish. From there onwards, it was all Manchester United as Roma found it too difficult to keep up with them and handle them, with the English team scoring four goals in the last 25 minutes of the match, as the goals came from Cavani again, Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood.
Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest Europa League fixture…
One foot into the Europa League finals
Despite failing to get past the semi-finals of three competitions during the 2019-20 season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are 90 minutes away from finally experiencing their first final under the 48-year-old Norwegian international. It may seem like a long time coming, but the manager and the players have shown the maturity and understanding to comeback from the downfall they had suffered from last season, resulting in a campaign ending with zero silverware.
With one foot in the Europa League final, both the manager and the players will still have a lot to takeaway from the first leg against Roma, as a number of individuals had lost their heads once the opposition took the lead, and the coach is always criticised for his in-game management skills. Though, on this occasion, Solskjaer did not change the line-up after trailing to Roma, as the team managed to turn things around in the second half as they showed their pure brilliance and quality.
The big characters in midfield and attack stepped up
After Edin Dzeko had given the visitors the lead in the 34th minute of the game, nothing was going right for United, who were failing to string a couple of passes together and were not making the clear effort on both sides of the pitch. However, with the half-time break arriving at the perfect time for the side, the huge characters in the team in Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba effectively stepped up in the second half, leaving Roma with no chance of defending their 2-1 lead.
With experienced players who have played at the highest level of football for quite some time like the above trio, they are the type of individuals who are able to create a chance or score a goal from half a moment. When a manager has born winners and players who step up when the side need them the most, it leaves Solskjaer with very little to do or to change in order to turn the game around, as individuals such as Cavani, Fernandes and Pogba are able to do this single-handedly.
Man Utd remain favourites to win the Europa League
For sure, Manchester United were seen as the clear favourites to win the Europa League after they were knocked out of the Champions League group stages, though, the side had to take their performance levels and results up a notch in order to prevent themselves from being regarded as bottlers. As the club have not won a trophy since May 2017, which was the Europa League under Jose Mourinho, everyone at the club will want to re-write history by becoming two-time winners.
With the opposition for the final yet to be confirmed between Arsenal and Villarreal, the Red Devils should have more than enough class and individual brilliance to see out either of the sides in the Europa League final. Not only that, but the side also have one of the best form away from home in Europe, as the team have shown their pure class of elite mentality and intelligence to win games. In the end, it would be seen as a huge shock if the Red Devils fail to win the competition and a lot of questions and doubts will be raised on whether the manager/players are good enough for the club.