De Gea, Cavani shine for Man United against Roma

Sports Desk, May 6 (EFE).- Manchester United began Thursday’s Europa League semifinal second leg against AS Roma with a commanding 6-2 lead, but the Red Devils would need a clutch performance by goalkeeper David De Gea and a brace from Edinson Cavani to escape with a 3-2 loss and advance to the final 8-5 on aggregate.

United, who won the Europa League four years ago with Jose Mourinho as coach, are headed to their first final in any competition since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of the squad in 2018.

And Cavani, who accounted for four of United’s eight goals in the tie, gave another demonstration of the value he can still bring at the age of 34.

Counted out after their collapse in the first leg at Old Trafford, Roma battled from start to finish on Thursday and earned a measure of redemption.

Roma’s focus and intensity on the attack provided De Gea with an occasion to demonstrate his enduring excellence even as the Spain international has been forced to accept sharing the starting goalkeeper role with Dean Henderson.

The hosts won a free kick in the 4th minute and Lorenzo Pellegrini’s effort reached Gianluca Mancini for an attempt from close range that De Gea batted aside.

Roma’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed into the side-netting two minutes later.

A shot by Cavani in the 20th minute grazed the cross-bar before going behind and the Uruguayan threatened again in the 28th minute, forcing an impressive stop from Roma keeper Antonio Mirante.

De Gea denied Pellegrini from six yards out in the 35th minute.

With six minutes left in the first half, Cavani beat Mirante with a rocket from 20 yards to make it 0-1 on the night and 2-7 overall. De Gea dealt with a strike by Mkhitaryan in the 42nd and Bruno Fernandes came close to extending United’s lead right before the break.

Roma began chipping away at the deficit in the 57th minute with a goal by Edin Dzeko, who developed a taste for scoring against United during his years with Manchester City.

The Italian club took a 2-1 lead on the night at the hour mark, when Pellegrini dispossessed Fred just outside the area and the ball rolled to Bryan Crisante, who bested De Gea.

But the Spaniard made three outstanding saves over the next two minutes, thwarting Dzeko and Pedro in quick succession and Mkhitaryan seconds later.

And as the match entered the final 20 minutes, Cavani converted a great cross from Bruno Fernandes to restore the four-goal edge for the visitors.

Even so, Roma kept fighting. Mkhitaryan hit the post in the 75th minute and 19-year-old Nicola Zalewski narrowed the aggregate to 8-5 in the 83rd minute.

United will face Villarreal in the May 26 final. EFE am/dr

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