Edinson Cavani was the star of the show as Manchester United delivered an imperious second-half performance to firmly set their sights on the Europa League final as they trounced Roma 6-2 at Old Trafford.
The Uruguayan delivered a clinic in leading the line in the first leg of the semi-final, playing a part in FIVE of United’s six goals as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men hammered their Italian opponents in what was a masterclass in finishing.
The Red Devils got off to a stunning start after Paul Pogba impressively wriggled into space and passed to Cavani, whose fine first-time ball put Bruno Fernandes through to coolly clip over onrushing goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
The hosts’ lead was short lived, however, as just six minutes later Pogba harshly penalised for handling the ball in the area.
Rick Karsdorp’s cross hit the Frenchman’s hand and, after some initial indecision, referee Carlos del Cerro Grande pointed to the spot and Roma skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini beat David De Gea.
Roma took a shock 2-1 lead in the 33rd minute through United’s old foe Edin Dzeko.
Former Red Devil Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s superb pass put Lorenzo Pellegrini in behind, with the captain’s cross bundled home by the former City striker from close range as United were punished for poor defending.
Incredibly, the Bosnian frontman became the first player in history to score against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2000s, 2010s and 2020s.
But shortly after the interval, Solskjaer’s men were level and it was Cavani who got his first goal of the game.
Following an exquisite pass from Fernandes, the veteran striker beautfiully finished into the corner.
Former Premier League striker Dean Ashton, on talkSPORT commentary duty for the cash, couldn’t hide his admiration for the finish.
“Manchester United are so good in these situations,” Ashton said of the goal. “Fernandes with a disguise pass for Cavani and I’ll tell you what, he could have just put it in the corner but he opens his body up and rifles it into the top corner.
“The goalkeeper didn’t have a chance. Brilliant, cool, killer finish from Cavani.”
The former PSG man restored United’s lead little over 15 minutes and this time his second goal of the game was far more simple.
He tapped home from close range for his 12th goal of the season after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s shot was parried into his path by the goalkeeper.
Fernandes then sealed the victory for United from the spot for his second of the after Chris Smalling was adjudged to have fouled Cavani in the box, before Pogba got a deserved fifth for United following a towering header in the box to make it 5-2.
But United had no plans on putting on the footbreak as substitute Mason Greenwood latched onto an exquisite, inch-perfect pass from Cavani before firing into the corner.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men now have one foot in the final and must now surely be readying the paperwork for Cavani to sign a new deal.