MANCHESTER UNITED fans may never get the chance to thank Edinson Cavani, but they will not forget him.
How fitting it would be if his last act in the famous red t-shirt would be to have the Europa League trophy in his hands, a winner yet again.
Two goals, 2 assists and a charge won was his contribution as United returned from 2-1 down to win this Europa League semi-final first leg tie 6-2.
No wonder manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate for the 34-year-old legend of Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain to extend his stay by another season.
Sadly he wants a return to South America, but prior to that he wants a prize for Manchester United – and with this win they are all but in the final.
The wish for maybe 2,000 United fans is that they can be there too and the chance to sing Cavani’s name may come.
For Solskjaer his semi-final hoodoo as manager looks to be over having lost his previous four over this season and last.
That very first trophy he imagines remains in sight now too and he has the players to complete the task.
Bruno Fernandes was on the mark once again with 2 goals of his own and two helps, while Paul Pogba, outstanding on the night regardless of yielding a penalty, headed house number five before Mason Greenwood rounded things of with the 6th.
What a night it was as this United vintage attempted to match that of 2006 who beat Roma 7-1 here in the Champions League quarter-finals.
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United were in control of that video game from the start, but not so this as they actually trailed 2-1 at the break.
It was a cracking first-half filled with action and occurrence. 3 goals scored and AS Roma forced into three substitutions due to injury, the first after simply 3 minutes, including their goalkeeper.
Both Pogba and Cavani had been rested till the late phases of the goalless draw away to Leeds to keep them fresh for this video game and they would combine to calve open Roma up for Fernandes to score the opener.
Luke Shaw was up supporting the attack as usual and when he slipped the ball to Pogba the French World Cup winner executed an outstanding turn that left three Roma gamers in his wake.
He discovered Cavani, whose touch just inside the area was ideal for Fernandes to latch onto and raise the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.
Benefit United but for only four minutes as Pogba reversed his good work by handing the opposition a charge.
Rick Karsdorp credited the byline to get a cross in and Pogba moved in to obstruct it, however his arm was high and the ball struck his hand.
David De Gea thought the proper way however Lorenzo Pellegrini’s spot-kick had excessive power.
Mark Halsey’s view
PAUL POGBA can have no grievances after his first-half handball gifted Roma a charge at Old Trafford. The Manchester United midfielder’s arm was in an abnormal position when he blocked Rick Karsdorp’s cross. Yes, Pogba was moving in to stop the cross but the Frenchman made himself larger with his arm in the air and Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande properly pointed to the spot. VAR would have checked Pogba’s handball however it was not a clear and apparent mistake by the match authorities so the choice stood. It was unnecessary for Pogba to move into the obstacle with his arm that high and his action saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side pegged back at 1-1. Pogba’s handball would have been given in any competitors worldwide and had it occurred in the Roma box then United would have been shrieking for a penalty.
Shaken, but stirred back into action Pogba attempted to apologize with a thumping long range that Pau Lopez saved at complete stretch.
He arrived on his shoulder, nevertheless, and sought to have actually dislocated it so needed to be switched for Antonio Mirante.
Could United take advantage? Eh, well not instantly as Roma would take the lead through Edin Dzeko, poking the ball home from close quarters after a slick relocation from the visitors.
He likes it here. It remained in October 2011 that he struck two times in that well-known 6-1 win for Manchester City and he commemorated derby magnificence once more here with another brace in a 3-0 win in 2014.
United have a habit of playing video games of 2 halves, the 2nd usually much better than the very first therefore it proved once again as they initially drew level three minutes after the break.
Pogba discovered Cavani who exchanged passed with Fernandes before ending up magnificently with a first time side-footed effort into the leading right-hand corner.
He ought to have provided the lead five minutes later on when Shaw teed him up just to sky a shot from ten yards.
However the top strikers simply go once again, and he did, and he scored once again.
Aaron Wan Bissaka’s 64th-minute cross shot was spilled by the goalkeeper and Cavani’s poachers impulses had him in the best location at the right time to scoop home the loose ball.
He was refrained from doing, winning a charge 5 minutes later on after Smalling felled him near the byline.
Fernandes tucked the spot kick away and on 75 minutes offered the cross from Luke Shaw’s brief corner for Pogba to head house and make it 5.
Mason Greenwood came on to include number six latching onto a great ball from Cavani with the outside of his boot to fire house.
Book the airplane to Gdansk, United are on their way.
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