Manchester United came from behind to earn a convincing 6-2 win over AS Roma in the teams’ Europa League semifinal first leg at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
The sides traded early goals in the first half, with Bruno Fernandes scoring for the hosts before Lorenzo Pellegrini converted his spot kick for Roma on 15 minutes following a hand ball in the area by Paul Pogba.
Pellegrini then set up Edin Dzeko to put Roma in front as the half wore on, the former Man City striker poking home from close range after some tidy buildup play as the Serie A side took a one-goal lead into the dressing room.
Man United drew level early in the second half with a sublime finish from Edinson Cavani, the Uruguay international lashing an unstoppable first-time shot from a Fernandes assist past Pau Lopez in the Roma goal.
Cavani then put United in the lead just past 60 minutes when he was able to pounce on a rebound from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s saved effort and poke the ball into the net for the 3-2 lead.
Pogba’s glancing header following a corner kick extended Man United’s lead to three goals, effectively killing off the tie barring something unbelievable in the second leg in Rome on May 6.
Meanwhile, Villarreal claimed a narrow advantage in their Europa League semifinal against Arsenal with a 2-1 home victory in the first leg on Thursday, although they will feel frustrated at letting the London club off the hook.
First-half goals by Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put the Spanish club in command and it looked bleak for the visitors when Dani Ceballos was sent off just before the hour mark.
Arsenal were rocking and needed keeper Bernd Leno to avoid them slipping further behind but they were thrown a lifeline when Nicolas Pepe converted a 73rd-minute penalty.
A chaotic game took another twist as Villarreal were also reduced to 10 men when former Tottenham Hotspur player Etienne Capoue received a second yellow card.
Villarreal, coached by former Arsenal manager and Europe League specialist Unai Emery, maintained their 100% home record in the competition this season.
He is in his first season with Villarreal after being fired by the English club in November 2019. Emery has thrived in the Europa League, having led Sevilla FC to three straight titles from 2014-16.
But the tie remains delicately balanced ahead of next week’s return in London.