Manchester United fans may never get to show their appreciation for Edinson Cavani, but the Uruguayan is making sure to leave his mark even if he leaves this summer.
The 34-year-old scored twice and provided another two assists in a world-class display as United demolished Roma in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final, and it’s clear why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is so desperate. for keeping him at the club beyond the end of the season.
That, sadly, seems unlikely.
However, after a brilliant night of work, it seems more likely that Cavani will cap off his brief stint in Manchester with a trophy.
“Absolutely delighted with him,” was Solskjaer’s assessment after the game.
The only tinge of disappointment in his performance at Old Trafford on Thursday night was that he failed to get the hat-trick he deserved and, when he scored United’s second and third goals on another memorable European night, there were no fans to look forward to. Serenade. he.
Solskjaer must be sick of joking that his team likes to make things difficult and, after a dominating start in which they sought to set the tone for the tie with an impressive goal in eight minutes, it seemed like it was the same story again. .
A dubious penalty decision against Paul Pogba and an unreliable defense allowed the Italian visitors to go 2-1 up at half-time. Solskjaer will be well aware that there will be no room for what he called “youth and school mistakes” should they reach the final. But at least this time he wasn’t going to be able to bottle it himself.
The difference from Solskjaer’s four previous semi-final losses was the class of the three players who planned United’s comeback that night: Cavani, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.
With serious doubts about the long-term future of two of those three players, the club must do everything in its power to try to keep at least one of them. Cavani appears to have made a decision, but the prospect of Pogba extending his stay may now be on the cards.
As they were combined to devastating effect, Roma fans could have been forgiven for a sense of deja vu. They were hit by seven at this Champions League stadium in 2007.
There were only six here, but it certainly could have been more.
Cavani, with a sublime shot for the first time in the upper corner for United’s equalizer, set the tone for an impressive second half. He was there again to give United the lead, a poacher’s shot after substitute goalkeeper Antonio Mirante unloaded a shot from Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
That was his 50th goal in a major European club competition.
That kind of experience is key for Solskjaer; Before the game he talked about bringing Pogba and Cavani back to the starting eleven along with Fernandes. On a team struggling to win their first trophy with this coach, they know what it takes to get there.
“He’s just showing his experience,” the manager said after Cavani. “We need that at this point in the season. We want the experience to improve and it has.”
Fernandes has had a quiet few weeks by his very high standards, but he returned to his best against the Serie A team; Two goals, to which he added two assists, raised his scoring tally for the season to 26. Pogba scored the fifth with a firm header from one of those passes from the Portuguese.
Mason Greenwood came off the bench to score with a typically good finish to make six and Solskjaer’s dreams of a first coaching final look like they might finally come true.