Man Utd: Solskjaer says first trophy will be 'dream come true'
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Manchester United got lucky against Roma on Thursday night after a dire first half showing. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side claimed victory in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, with Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes both scoring braces. However, the Red Devils weren’t at their best for large sections of the game.
Manchester United got their night off to a perfect start, with Bruno Fernandes opening the scoring in the ninth minute.
The Portugal international found the net via a deft lob after some excellent work from Edinson Cavani.
However, Roma then upped the ante and turned things around.
Lorenzo Pellegrini scored from the penalty spot after Paul Pogba was adjudged to have handled inside the area, with former Manchester City striker Edin Dzenko putting the Serie A side ahead.
Fortunately for United, they levelled through Cavani. And he and Fernandes both scored again to put them in pole position to make next month’s final, with Pogba and Mason Greenwood also on target.
However, in truth, it was a poor performance for large parts of the game. So Express Sport will now take a look at three players who can count themselves lucky after the match at Old Trafford.
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There’s no denying that, on his day, Victor Lindelof ranks as one of the best centre-backs in the top flight.
Yet the Sweden international looked nervous against Roma, with the Serie A giants exploiting his lack of pace at the back.
Lindelof was far too weak in the build-up to Dzeko’s goal, allowing the opposition to drift around him.
Behind the scenes, United are eyeing the signing of Raphael Varane.
And, based on this evidence, they’re certainly in need of the Real Madrid star. He’d certainly be an upgrade on Lindelof, who was let off the hook tonight.
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Sometimes, Fred looks like a £52million player.
He’s usually trusted by Solskjaer for the big games, which explained why he was unleashed against Roma right from the start.
But the Brazil international has struggled in recent weeks.
He was dire in the FA Cup defeat to Leicester and looked flat against Leeds over the weekend, too.
Against Roma, it was a similar story with the Samba star guilty of failing to track his runner for the Italians’ second goal of the night.
And if Fred continues to struggle, United may just intensify their interest in West Ham star Declan Rice.
Hear us out. Cavani is brilliant, world-class and a huge asset to Solskjaer’s side.
The Uruguayan certainly took his goals well, expertly hooking his first effort into the net and tapping home from close range for the second.
But United also saw the 34-year-old squander two big chances that, on another night, would have cost them dearly.
He shot straight at Antonio Mirante when set through in the first half, and blazed a glaring opportunity over the bar after the interval when the game was delicately poised.
It may seem harsh to include him on this list. But if Cavani misses those chances on another day, the result could have been different. Football is about fine margins, and he got away with it this time.
Then again, the best players tend to do that…
Scholes’ angry rant
Speaking before the game, United legend Paul Scholes slammed the Glazers for the way they handle their ownership of the club.
“I’m not sure there ever will be a connection with these owners. I don’t think that’s just this club – it’s every club who started with billionaire owners, what we brought into here, for them to have a toy. A toy to make money with,” he said.
“This is a great club as well to actually have that connection with the owners. The young players this club has, the young local lads in the academy. It’s a great chance to have that connection.
“But as long as there’s billionaire owners from America, from other countries, there’s never going to be a connection.
“Look at Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, is there a connection there? I don’t think there is. I don’t think there ever will be.
“I think we have to stop pining for that. The most important thing for the fans now is what happens on the football pitch and you look at the last four or five years at Manchester United – the resources, the money this club has had, and it’s not won a trophy for four years. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
“Look the Glazers, they chose a man to represent them, to run the football club who’s brilliant at making money. Funnily enough. Exactly what they want. Brilliant.
“But has the football side been neglected through that. I don’t think Ed is a football man. I think the man before, David Gill, great again at making money but he was a football man. He knew what the club needed.
“We’ve had five or six years since the manager went, choosing the wrong managers. Not giving them time to produce teams. Choosing the wrong type of players for this football club. Which is disappointing.
“It’s down to the ownership of billionaire owners who are greedy and just use this club as a toy to make money.”
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