Thursday, January 20, 2022

Manchester United reach Europa League final despite defeat


Manchester United have finally broken the semi-final curse under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they look to get their hands on silverware after the last time they won this competition. They had to work hard and rely on luck multiple times as they proceeded to the final despite losing 3-2 to AS Roma.

The outcome was pretty obvious. The second-half magnificence from the Red Devils in the first leg at Old Trafford had already sealed the result. United were trailing 2-1 in the first half. However, they changed their gear and scored 5 goals in the second half to end the match in their favour. However, they weren’t supposed to be written off as they had come back from a similar situation against Barcelona.

AS Roma had made 5 changes to the side that lost to Sampdoria in the Serie A. Fuzato, Santon, Kumbulla, Villar and Mayoral made way for Mirante, Karsdrop, Ibanez, Pedro and Pellegrini. The manager Paulo Fonseca even made a slight change in the formation in the hope of getting a positive impact.

Manchester United on the other hand made 3 changes to the team that faced Roma last week. As their Premier League fixture got postponed, more changes were expected as United will be facing 4 opponents in a week including this fixture. Bailly got his first start after recovering from the coronavirus and after signing a new deal with the club. Greenwood replaced Rashford and De Beek got one of his rarest start replacing McTominay.

Cavani and De Gea were the stars for Manchester United in the first half

Manchester United were completely off the entire game. The 4 goal lead had made them loosen up. Other than a couple of goals scored, the team was not even giving a per cent of their best effort. If it wasn’t for David De Gea’s brilliance, a comeback could have definitely taken place and United would have been humiliated.

The game started the way everyone expected. Roma were on the front foot and United were relying on their defensive capability. De Gea worked his charm as early in the 4th minute itself. Pellegrini’s freekick ended up at Mancini’s feet and he was separated from the goalkeeper by only a couple of feet, yet his strike was denied. Mancini was seen handling the ball, but the Spaniard wasn’t aware of that and pulled off a great save.

A few minutes later, former United player, Mkhitaryan had the perfect chance with an easy header, but he put it yards outside. Roma registered 4 shots inside the 10 minutes. The Italian outlet then continued with their attempts to reduce the gap as soon as possible. Cavani had 2 great opportunities. The first one was a clear one-on-one which he decided to lob over Mirante but was slightly more powerful as it hit the top of the post.

The next one saw him hit a vicious shot from inside the box, but Mirante denied it brilliantly. He finally scored from a counter-attack which was assisted by Fred. Before he scored that goal, De Gea made an intense save from Pellegrini who picked it up after Dzeko’s attempt which was deflected by Maguire towards him. They battled intensely till the half-time whistle.

Roma’s attempt for a comeback ruined by ill-luck and a formidable De Gea

Roma continued the second half in the hope of getting at least something. Their continuous pressure was awarded in the 57th minute when Dzeko headed a close-range shot which was volleyed into the ground by Pedro. This goal increased their belief and 3 minutes later, they scored the second. This was caused by a mix-up from the United players near their post. Pellegrini tackled the ball from Fred who had almost escaped the Roma players. The ball bounced back to Cristante who was behind Fred, and he fired a fine shot while turning, to the corner beyond De Gea’s reach.

Roma were almost closing to a comeback. They had another open chance a minute after they scored their second goal. A double save from United’s No.1, which included a point-blank save from Dzeko as well as from Pedro kept United in the game. If that contribution wasn’t enough, a minute later, again, a close flick from Mkhitaryan was met by the in-form keeper that denied the ball from crossing the goal line as it trickled away to the far post.

United on the other hand were lucky enough. Cavani equalized by heading the ball which was precisely delivered by Fernandes. Out of the 13 shots on target, Roma were only able to convert 3. Whereas United scored 2 from the 5 shots on target. To pile on the misery for Roma, Mkhitaryan’s another attempt was denied by the post.

In the 83rd minute, Roma scored the final goal of the game. The goal did win them the match, but the bad luck cost them overall. If it wasn’t for De Gea, Roma would have registered one of the most historic comebacks. Manchester United will be facing Villarreal in the final at Gdansk.


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