It’s all over in Rome, where Manchester United survived a minor scare to emerge victorious from a marvellously entertaining semi-final played across two legs.
Roma were terrific tonight, certainly creating enough chances to put the collective heart crossways in Manchester United, but ultimately coming up short following their disastrous performance at Old Trafford.
Manchester United are through to their first final under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Edinson Cavani scoring twice in a second-leg defeat to Roma that could not deny them a place in the Europa League showpiece.
Having fallen at the semi-final stage on four occasions across the last two seasons, the Red Devils will meet the Spanish side Villarreal in Poland on May 26.
Last week’s 6-2 victory at Old Trafford meant United already had one foot in the Gdansk finale ahead of the trip to Italy, where Roma made things uncomfortable and won an entertaining semi-final second leg 3-2.
Cavani was the star of the 8-5 aggregate triumph as he followed his first-leg brace with another pair in the eternal city, where he fired the visitors into a first-half lead from a fine Bruno Fernandes pass
David De Gea was the standout performer at the Stadio Olimpico, producing fine early saves and then some outstanding stops as United wobbled following quickfire Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante efforts.
Cavani rose to head United back level on the night from another superb Fernandes ball, but Roma gave it their all days after it was confirmed that Paulo Fonseca would be succeeded by Solskjaer’s predecessor Jose Mourinho.
Teenage debutant Nicola Zalewski fired home a deflected late effort to seal the spirited hosts a second-leg victory, but it is the Red Devils heading to Poland for a shot at their first trophy since winning the competition in 2017.
The hard work was done in Manchester a week earlier, United slicing through the Roma defence with such ruthless intensity in the second half that manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer could have rested all of his best players and still gone through comfortably.
United have played so many games in this condensed campaign it would have made sense to give Bruno Fernandes a break. The Portugal international has played 33 games for United and another eight for his country. He has been superb; a world-class player doing world class things, but he did not have to play here.
Neither did Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw or Aaron Wan-Bissaka. All have taken on a gruelling work load this season, all would have benefited from a rest, but while Solskjaer made changes, he kept his key men busy.
Maguire: ‘Now we’ve got to win it’
United captain Harry Maguire told BT Sport: “It’s a great achievement to get to the final. We didn’t win the game and that’s disappointing but we did the hard work in the first leg.
“We started the game a bit edgy. It was end to end like basketball and we gave them too many chances in second half.
“Now we’ve got to go to the final and win it. Edinson scored two great goals and his movement and work rate without the ball is excellent.
“His second goal is typical of him and what he has done throughout his career.”