Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Europa League: United to play Villarreal in final as Arsenal slump

Manchester United reached their first final of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era after going down 3-2 but advancing 8-5 in an entertaining Europa League last-four tie with Roma.

Edinson Cavani opened the scoring with a fabulous first-half effort, then found the net with a fine header from Bruno Fernandes’ excellent floated pass in the second half.

In between, Roma briefly threatened a comeback when former Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko scored his ninth goal against United before Bryan Cristante finished smartly with a shot on the turn after the ball spilled in United area.

The Italians had the final word when substitute Nicola Zalewski’s low drive went in through David de Gea’s legs after taking a deflection off Alex Telles.

The 8-5 aggregate victory ends a run of four semi-final defeats for United under Solskjaer and sets up a final meeting with Villarreal who edged Arsenal 2-1 in the other semifinal.

Arsenal hopes were dashed as Villarreal sealed a semi-final victory that will almost certainly end the Gunners’ unbroken 25-season run of appearing in European competition.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck the post with a volley but it was a rare moment of threat in a display strangely passive for large parts.

Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe both fired efforts wide early in the second half and Aubameyang hit the post again with a downward header later in the game.

Interestingly, the defeat came at the hands of former boss Unai Emery who was sacked in November 2019 after 18 months in charge.

The final will take place at the Stadion Miejski in Gdansk on 26 May.

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