Match report as Manchester United reach the Europa League semi-finals for second successive season where they will face Roma; Edinson Cavani strike and Jesus Vallejo’s own goal complete 4-0 aggregate win over Granada
Thursday 15 April 2021 22:45, UK
Manchester United booked a Europa League semi-final with Roma after Edinson Cavani’s early strike sent them on their way to a 2-0 victory over Granada at Old Trafford, completing a 4-0 aggregate win.
Goals from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes secured a 2-0 first-leg triumph at Estadio Los Carmenes last week, and United assumed control of the tie once more within six minutes at Old Trafford.
Cavani had underlined his predatory instincts during the 3-1 success at Tottenham, and the in-form Uruguayan scored his first European goal in United colours and 50th overall after meeting Paul Pogba’s knockdown to volley his low drive into the bottom corner.
Jesus Vallejo’s own goal in the final minute of normal time compounded Granada’s night with the Spaniards missing a spate of opportunities to keep the tie in the balance, but United progress to face Roma following their 3-2 aggregate win over Ajax.
11 – Edinson Cavani has scored in European competition for the 11th consecutive season, with this being his first goal in the UEFA Europa League since December 2012 (for Napoli v PSV). Permanent. pic.twitter.com/mbsGhcsXRm
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (8), Tuanzebe (7), Lindelof (7), Telles (7), Matic (7), Pogba (7), Fred (7), Fernandes (7), Greenwood (7), Cavani (7).
Subs: Mata (6), Diallo (n/a), James (6), Williams (n/a), Van de Beek (6).
Granada: Rui Silva (6), Foulquier (6), Vallejo (6), German (7), Neva (6), Montoro (6), Gonalons (6), Kenedy (6), Herrera (7), Machis (6), Soldado (5).
Subs: Suarez (6), Puertas (5), Diaz (6), Molina (6), Ruiz (n/a)
Man of the match: Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Can United break semi-final curse?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now prepares for his fifth semi-final in two years hoping to go one better than he managed in his previous four, and Roma will provide a much stiffer test than the side eighth in La Liga, whose adventure in the Europa League was all but ended on home soil.
In the absence of the suspended Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay, Solskjaer fielded a strong side as he looked to ensure there would be no upset in the second leg, and Cavani waited little time in ending the contest.
- How the teams lined up | Match stats
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He provided United with the dream start, as Pogba flicked on an Alex Telles cross to the 34-year-old, who volleyed into the bottom corner from inside the box. It was the 413th goal for club and country in Cavani’s illustrious career and further evidence towards extending his stay beyond the end of the season.
This was Granada’s first visit to England, and their head coach Diego Martinez will have been encouraged by his team’s response to the early set-back. Yangel Herrera missed two presentable opportunities in quick succession, glancing his header wide from an immediate set-play before doing likewise midway through the second period when unmarked.
Man Utd team news
Paul Pogba captained Manchester United in Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Granada.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five alterations to the side that beat Tottenham 3-1 on Sunday, with Axel Tuanzebe, Alex Telles and Nemanja Matic replacing suspended Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay.
David de Gea came in for Dean Henderson in goal, while Marcus Rashford was replaced in the starting line-up by Mason Greenwood.
Granada simply lacked the necessary quality in the final third, while United were happy playing in first gear as Bruno Fernandes met Nemanja Matic’s pass with a speculative volley that cleared the crossbar.
By then, Pogba had seen yellow for the use of a high arm on Granada captain German Sanchez – and the Frenchman was perhaps a little fortunate not to be punished for a second bookable offence when catching Herrera. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer kept him on until the interval, before withdrawing the captain for the night and replacing him with Donny van de Beek.
The Dutchman has been a peripheral figure for United this season, making just two Premier League starts, but he looked eager to impress during a relatively eventless second period. He came close to extending his side’s lead when the ball fell kindly for him from Mason Greenwood’s driving run, but his dragged shot failed to trouble Rui Silva.
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Cavani departed on the hour-mark, shortly after glancing another Fernandes delivery just wide with David de Gea down the other end a mere spectator. That nearly changed when Sanchez collected Angel Montoro’s cross but the veteran defender dragged his effort wide.
Fernandes made way for the final 15 minutes as United confirmed their place in the last four with plenty to spare, with De Gea forced into a late save to keep out Victor Diaz’s long-range shot and preserve his clean sheet.
De Gea wasn’t done there, as he smothered another Herrera effort to set United on the counter-attack as Telles’ cross towards Juan Mata was inadvertently glanced into his own net by Vallejo.
What the manager said
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport: “Granada do give you a game. It’s a physical game, they throw people forward. You have to defend in these kind of games. But it’s good to win 2-0, get a clean sheet, and there were some good individual performances. We’re full of confidence going into Sunday [against Burnley].”
On bringing Paul Pogba off at half-time: “Sometimes, Paul wants to win so much… he went into a couple of tackles after his yellow card but I thought I don’t want to risk that [him being sent off] even though he played so well. We missed three today [through suspension]. The season has been hard enough as it is.”
On playing Roma in the semis: “I’ve not seen too much of them. I knew they played two good games against Roma. They defend well, as Italian teams always do. We all know Edin Dzeko so every ball into the box is a dangerous one.
“We are looking forward to it. We’re in the semis. It feels like a proper European tie because Roma is a club with lots of history. We’ve done well against Italian sides before. We’re going into it hoping to get to the final. If we can finish the season with a trophy that’d be great.”
On Marcus Rashford’s fitness: “We hope he’s going to be ready. Today was about not risking him. He was on the bench just in case because you never know in a knockout tie. He’s been playing with a sore foot. I don’t know yet.”
‘Every team will give you problems’
Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes to BT Sport:
“It was a good game. The Europa League is always difficult to play. It doesn’t matter who you play against. We know Granada have quality – they can create something.
“We did well. We controlled the game and had a lot of the ball. We kept the ball moving. The result shows that. Now is the time for the next step and win a semi-final. [Before then] it’s time to focus on the league. He [Edinson Cavani] is a proper striker, a proper number nine.”
On facing Roma in the semi-finals: “Every team will give you problems. They have a good organisation defensively, they can create problems offensively. Some of their players have played in England. We know what we have to do. If we do the right things, we will have our chances to win the game.”
Man of the match – Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Manchester United have won three consecutive knockout stage games without conceding in major European competition for the first time since April 2008, and the display of Wan-Bissaka played a crucial role in this resolute display.
Granada had more efforts at goal, but the United right-back showed both sides of his game to frustrate the visitors in their quest for an unlikely turnaround while he also provided the hosts with an attacking outlet.
The 23-year-old is down the pecking order among England’s plethora of exciting right-backs but Gareth Southgate is aware of his qualities. Wan-Bissaka made 10 ball recoveries, won eight of his duels and made three interceptions during a fine display.
United have kept five clean sheets in six UEFA Europa League games since the turn of the year, more than any other side in 2021.
United continue proud tradition – Opta stats
- Manchester United have reached their 18th semi-final in all European competitions (including Fairs Cup) – only Liverpool (19) have appeared in more amongst English sides.
- Manchester United have won three consecutive knockout stage games without conceding in major European competition for the first time since April 2008.
- Granada have lost their last three matches in the UEFA Europa League, having lost just two of their first nine in the competition (W5 D2 L2).
- Since losing their first two home games in the UEFA Europa League back in the 2011-12 season, Manchester United haven’t lost any of their last 17 games at Old Trafford in the competition (W13 D4).
- Following Granada’s 0-2 defeat to Man Utd, Spanish sides are winless in their last six away games against English teams (D3 L3), failing to score in each of the last five matches.
Manchester United return to Premier League action on Super Sunday as they host Burnley at 4pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event. Granada host Eibar in La Liga next Thursday at 8pm.
Europa League semi-final draw
First legs: April 29 | Second legs: May 6
- Manchester United vs Roma
- Villarreal vs Arsenal
When and where is the Europa League final?
The Europa League final takes place on Wednesday, May 26 at the Gdansk Arena in Poland. The stadium was due to host the 2020 final, but after the tournament was delayed due to Covid-19, the showpiece took place in Cologne, Germany as Sevilla beat Inter 3-2.
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