Manchester United book showdown with Villarreal in final as Arsenal fall short


Manchester United have finally reached a major final under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The English giants completed an 8-5 victory on aggregate despite losing 3-2 to Roma in the second leg of the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday (Friday AEST).

Edinson Cavani celebrates United’s opener against Roma.Credit:AP

It ended a run of four losses in the semi-finals of major tournaments in the past 18 months for Solskjaer, who is under pressure to win United’s first trophy since 2017. That came in the Europa League, when Jose Mourinho was manager.

Villarreal will be United’s opponent in the May 26 final in the Polish city of Gdansk after the Spanish side beat Arsenal 2-1 on aggregate in the other semi. The second leg finished 0-0 on Thursday (Friday AEST).

Faced with a huge task at the Stadio Olimpico after their 6-2 thrashing at Old Trafford last week, Roma created enough great chances to pull off what would have been a remarkable comeback.

Goals by Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante, in the 57th and 60th minutes, briefly put Roma 2-1 ahead and were the least the Italian team deserved after regularly breaching United’s defence. The visitors were thankful for a slew of saves by David de Gea in both halves, ensuring Nicola Zalewski’s 83rd-minute winner on the 19-year-old’s debut proved only a consolation for Roma.

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Roma couldn’t keep United at bay at the other end as Cavani showed his prowess as a finisher, opening the scoring in the 39th minute by taking a touch from Fred’s pass and smashing it home from just outside the area.

His second goal, a header from Bruno Fernandes’ cross in the 68th minute, made it 2-2 and came as a relief for United because Roma was threatening to score at will.

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