Manchester United fought back to punish AS Roma as Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes starred with two goals apiece in a thrilling 6-2 win in the first leg of their Europea League semi-final.
Roma lost three players to first-half injuries, but led at the interval after goals from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Edin Dzeko after Fernandes’ opener.
However, it was all United after the break as Cavani struck twice to restore the hosts’ lead before goals from Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood put the Red Devils in control of the tie.
Fernandes had gotten United off to a perfect start with a delicate lobbed finish off a well-worked move from Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani.
However, United’s defence then proceeded to implode as Paul Pogba conceded a penalty for a handball as he slid attempting to block a cross at the byline, and Pellegrini beat David De Gea from the spot.
Dzeko has a rich history of scoring goals at Old Trafford, and so it proved again as Pellegrini broke a poor offside trap and slid the ball in front of the former Manchester City striker to tap home unmarked.
As has so often been the case this season, United looked short of ideas in the first half – and yet again, Solskjaer resisted making any changes as he sent his starting XI back out to fix a mess of their own making.
Once again, United came flying out of the blocks as Cavani volleyed home two minutes after the restart off a Fernandes assist.
Roma had lost number one goalkeeper Pau Lopez to a shoulder injury before the break, and his replacement – 37-year-old Antonio Mirante – appeared to try to get Pogba sent off by feigning a head injury after minimal contact.
Mirante got his comeuppance as he soon spilled a tame Aaron Wan-Bissaka shot into the path of Cavani to tap home to put United 3-2 up.
Roma’s penalty was arguably a soft one, and United then had one of their own as former Red Devil Chris Smalling caught Cavani in the box after the Uruguayan had missed a near-post finish.
Fernandes duly stepped up and powered home an unstoppable penalty, and then created United’s fifth with a pinpoint cross off a short-corner routine for Pogba to head home.
There was time for one more as Cavani turned provider with an impudent assist for substitute Mason Greenwood to find the net.
While Roma will feel hard done by given their impressive first half, they return to Italy with two away goals – though United will surey feel they can finish the job in Rome to reach a Europa League final against either Arsenal or Villarreal.