David de Gea and Edinson Cavani were the only bright spots in defeat for Manchester United, who still progressed to the Europa League final after a 8-5 aggregate win over AS Roma.
AS Roma made a swift start to the game, forcing David de Gea into a fine save from point-blank range moments into the game. Thereafter, the game settled into a slower tempo, but Manchester United remained pegged back for the most part before breaking the deadlock against the run of play through Edinson Cavani, who scored with a powerfully driven shot in the 39th minute.
The second half began on a relatively better note for Manchester United, but the game was back on level terms just ten minutes in, when Edin Dzeko scored from close range. Shortly after, Roma took the lead with a brilliant long range effort from Bryan Cristante, who snatched the ball from Fred before unleashing a ferocious effort that beat de Gea all ends up.
However, all lingering hopes of a Roma comeback were put to bed when Cavani scored his second goal of the game to make it 2-2 midway through the second half. However, the hosts ended up scoring once more to end the tie on a strong note, as Nicola Zalewski found the back of the net via Alex Telles, with de Gea being beaten for a third time.
However, there was no late drama in store, as Manchester United firmly held on to their significant cushion to claim an aggregate win by a scoreline of 8-5. The Red Devils will now meet Villarreal in the final in Gdansk following the Spanish outfit’s goalless draw with Arsenal. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
David de Gea: 9/10
David de Gea vs. Roma:
🔘 10 saves
🔘 9 from inside the box
A vintage performance. 🍷 pic.twitter.com/2D8z3ukItB
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 6, 2021
A colossal performance by de Gea, who did well to stay alert in goal when Gianluca Mancini tested him with an acrobatic effort from close range. Produced a number of other important saves as the game wore on, particularly in the first half, when his solid presence in the Manchester United goal meant AS Roma never really had a chance to mount a comeback in the tie.
Could not have saved any of the three Roma strikes, but made a staggering 10 saves to keep the hosts at bay, with quite a few being right out of the top drawer, which is why he gets a 9 despite conceding thrice. Amid uncertainty surrounding his future at Manchester United, de Gea really is rolling back the years and making a point.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 6/10
Top notch from Wan-Bissaka for the most part, as he completed each of the 22 passes he attempted and even sent in a dangerous looking cross late in the first half. In the defensive phase, there was no getting past him, with former Manchester United playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan failing to test him one bit. Job well done before getting a breather with his half-time substitution.
Eric Bailly: 5/10
Back in the starting lineup, Bailly produced a nervy display, as he struggled to keep a lid on Dzeko for large parts of the game. The Ivorian often lost track of Dzeko for the second Roma goal and was under the pump from the veteran striker on a number of occasions, winning just 4 of the 12 duels he participated in on the night. There might not be a way back for him as far as this season goes.
Harry Maguire: 6/10
On a personal level, Maguire fared much better than Bailly, making a number of clearances (6) and interceptions (3) to lighten some of the workload for de Gea, while also winning each of the duels he contested (3/3). However, the Manchester United captain ought to have done so much more to keep the backline organised and keep the chances for Roma to a bare minimum. No harm done in the end, though.
Luke Shaw: 6/10
A decent enough display by Shaw, who spent more time in the AS Roma half than his, despite the fact that Manchester United were pegged back a fair bit. Did not really make an impact in the final third, but hardly ever lost the ball cheaply. Defended ably when called into action, but left some space to be exploited at times.
With AS Roma pushing men forward, Fred had a big role to play and he covered the Manchester United backline well for the most part. Surprisingly, though, it was one of his progressive passes that made the difference, as he released Edinson Cavani for the opener with a perfectly-weighted ball. Undid all the good work as he lost the ball to Bryan Cristante for the second Roma goal before unraveling a little in the final quarter of the game.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
Surprisingly deployed in midfield instead of Donny van de Beek, Pogba put in the hard yards but was overrun a number of times in the defensive phases. Did not misplace many passes, but on the flip side, he struggled to put a lid on Roma’s forward movements. A tactical error by Solskjaer, who should have made use of van de Beek in the double pivot.
Mason Greenwood: 5/10
A game to forget for Greenwood, who was on the periphery at times and did not quite manage to be on the same wavelength as some of his other teammates. Did get into scoring areas on a couple of occasions, but his finishing left a lot to be desired. Really should have had a goal to show for his efforts and will hope to do better next time out.
Bruno Fernandes: 6/10
As ever, there was no shortage of Hollywood passes from him, but Bruno Fernandes’s output was a bit sub-par at times. Did not come close with his shots either, in what ended up being a frustrating outing for the Manchester United talisman, although he salvaged some pride with a fantastic assist for Cavani’s second, spotting the Uruguayan on a ghosting run. In all fairness, this was the game to rest him.
Donny van de Beek: 5/10
Handed a rare start, van de Beek, the Player to Watch in our preview, was put in a difficult spot, as he was deployed in an unfamiliar left wing spot. Slowly started to settle in as the minutes ticked by, but the Dutchman really was out of his comfort zone here, which also affected his output in the defensive phases, as he struggled to support either Shaw or Alex Telles.
Edinson Cavani: 9/10
A bundle of energy right from the word go, Cavani looked to harry the Roma defenders off the ball high up the pitch. The standout moment, though, was when he produced the goods in front of goal for the third time across two legs in the first half, effectively putting the tie to bed for good. Linked up well with Bruno Fernandes as ever and could have had an assist on another day.
Cavani this tie:
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 6, 2021
Nevertheless, Cavani ended up taking matters into his own hands amid the Roma onslaught in the second half, producing a brilliant ghosting run before finishing off Fernandes’ cross without much of a fuss. Has really come to the fore this season for Manchester United, who will be hoping to keep hold of the veteran striker.
Brandon Williams: 5/10
On for Wan-Bissaka at half-time, Williams struggled to make any sort of impact on either end of the pitch. Did make a couple of clearances, but always left enough open space for crosses, one of which found its way to Nicola Zalewski from Davide Santon for the winner. Clearly rusty.
Alex Telles: 5/10
Like Williams, Telles replaced a first-choice Manchester United full-back – Shaw – at half-time. But, there were a few nervy moments early on for Telles against Pedro and failed to track the Spaniard for Dzeko’s goal. Things went from bad to worse late on, when Nicola Zalewski’s shot ricocheted off him past de Gea for the third Roma goal.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
Sent on in place of Pogba, Matic was solid enough in the final half an hour or so, as his presence meant Roma dictated most of their moves through the flanks. Completed 16 of the 18 passes he attempted while also delivering a couple of key passes. Won each of the 3 duels he contested as well.
Marcus Rashford: N/A
On for Cavani late on, Rashford did not really see the ball much in the final stages of the game, with Roma looking to end the tie on a high, although he did force Antonio Mirante into a decent stop.
Juan Mata: N/A
A late introduction in place of Bruno Fernandes, Mata hardly had any time to make an impact.