Unai Emery had a date with his past this Thursday evening. His Villarreal hosted his ex Arsenal at the Estadio de La Céramica in the semi-final first leg of the Europa League. A necessarily special meeting for the former technician of Paris SG. And his men started the game with their feet to the ground and took the advantage on a goal from Manuel Trigueros. The Spanish midfielder was following an offensive from Samuel Chukwueze and sent a low shot from the right into the back of the net from Bernd Leno (1-0, 5th). More enterprising, the Yellow Sub created several opportunities and once again found the loophole. On a deflection of the head of the home scorer Gerard Moreno following a corner from Dani Parejo, Raul Albiol, the central defender passed by Real Madrid and Napoli, worsened the score alone at the far post (2-0, 29th). The Gunners quickly found themselves reduced to ten after the restart, following the exclusion of Dani Ceballos, for a second warning (57th).
The Londoners drew on their resources to reduce the score, on a penalty converted by Nicolas Pépé (2-1, 73rd). They continued to push against the Iberians, also reduced to 10 after the expulsion of Frenchman Étienne Capoue, for a second yellow (80th). And if they did not manage to catch up again, despite a big situation for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (90th + 4), Mikel Arteta’s proteges retain their chances of qualifying for the final thanks to this away goal. In the other semi-final, Manchester United and Paul Pogba, second in the Premier League, received AS Roma from Paulo Fonseca, behind in Serie A. And the game started rather badly for the Giallorossi who quickly lost Jordan Veretout, their master to play, on injury (5th). And things got tough a few moments later. On a full axis percussion, Paul Pogba found Edinson Cavani in the heart of the surface. The Uruguayan handed over for Bruno Fernandes who deceived Pau Lopez with a subtle dive (1-0, 9th). We thought the Red Devils, clearly domineering, launched on the road to success, but the Romans obtained a few moments later a penalty for a foul hand from Pogba.
Cavani and Fernandes superstars, Pogba goalscorer
Lorenzo Pellegrini was in charge of transforming the sentence against David De Gea (1-1, 14th). The equalizer put the Louve club back in the game … for just a few minutes. MU resumed his domination. Pogba sent a heavy shot from the right that Lopez diverted somehow (25th). But on his stop, the Iberian injured his left collarbone and left his family, giving way to veteran Antonio Mirante. The Transalpines found the resources to place an offensive on the left side. Spinazzola overflowed and found Henrikh Mikhtaryan behind. The Armenian isolated Pellegrini in the penalty area. The Roman captain sent a perfect cross for Edin Dzeko who was happy to give the advantage to his team (1-2, 34 ‘). On this action, the Italians lost Spinazzola to injury. The third in thirty minutes … Damn, they were still quite happy to return to the locker room with a goal in advance, Cavani missing a face-to-face with Mirante in added time (45 + 2).
On returning from the locker room, the Transalpins were joined. After a combination initiated by Pogba, Fernandes found Cavani who, in one touch, at the entrance to the area, sent the leather into the top corner of Mirante (2-2, 48 ‘). The Uruguayan was very close to the double on a center back from Luke Shaw a few minutes later, but his left shot flew into the sky of Manchester (54th). El Matador did not miss, shortly after the hour mark, and followed well to resume victoriously a strike from Aaron Wan-Wissaka badly repulsed by Mirante (3-2, 64th). The former Parisian, again, obtained a generous penalty that Fernandes did not hesitate to convert into a goal (4-2, 71st). MU was going to widen the gap in the face of overwhelmed Romanistas. Fernandes, in all good shots, found Pogba in the box. The 2018 world champion catapulted a header into the top corner of Mirante (5-2, 75th). Launched in depth by Cavani, Mason Greenwood, who came into play late in the game, completed the success against a failing Mirante (6-2, 86th). Game, set and match MU!
The evening results:
Villarreal 2-1 Arsenal (Trigueros 5th, Albiol 29th – Pépé sp 73rd)
Manchester United 6-2 AS Roma (B. Fernandes 9th and 71st sp, Cavani 48th and 64th, Pogba 75th, Greenwood 86th – Pellegrini sp 15th, Dzeko 34th)