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Man Utd into EL final; Arsenal lose to Villareal

Man Utd into EL final; Arsenal lose to Villareal
Manchester United players celebrate after scoring against Roma during Europa League semi-final match.
ROME, MAY 7 (IANS): | Publish Date: 5/7/2021 2:17:58 PM IST

 Manchester United lost 2-3 to Roma in second leg of the semi-final of Europa League but cruised through to the final on the basis of an 8-5 aggregate victory.

But it will not be Premier League rivals Arsenal they meet in Poland’s Gdansk on May 26, rather Spaniards Villarreal, who are in a first major final after a goalless second leg in London, DPA reports.

The Yellow Submarine, as Villarreal are known, gained revenge for their 2006 Champions League semi-final loss to Arsenal with a 2-1 aggregate triumph while United dominated Roma 8-5.

Manchester United’s entry to the final means the club could claim both of the major European titles this year as neighbours Manchester City face Chelsea in the Champions League final three days later.

Only the city of Milan has managed this feat, when AC Milan won the Champions League and Inter Milan the UEFA Cup in 1994.

United survived an early scare when their former player Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed wide but Edinson Cavani, with his third chance in the game, smashed in the 39th minute opener to settle their nerves.

He had previously lobbed onto the bar and had a shot saved by keeper Antonio Mirante.And it was Cavani’s simple header from Bruno Fernandes’ cross midway through the second half which ultimately put the tie beyond doubt.

“It’s a great achievement,” United captain Harry Maguire told BT Sport. “Obviously we didn’t win the game tonight which is disappointing but we did the hard work in the first leg.” Roma, who will be coached by former United boss Jose Mourinho next season, deservedly levelled when Edin Dzeko headed in from close range and soon after Bryan Cristante fired in on the hour.

United keeper David de Gea, recalled for Europa League fixtures, made some impressive saves from Pedro and Mkhitaryan when a third goal could have sparked a comeback. 

Teenager Nicola Zalewski did grab the winner on the night but his deflected debut goal offered only late consolation.

“We had some great European nights this season with some big wins,” Cristante told UEFA.com. “It’s a pity for that second half in Manchester.” 

“Tonight we still had a few goals to score but we exit the competition with our heads held high.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had lost his previous four semi-finals as United manager but could finally taste victory. Villarreal also ended a last four hoodoo as they had lost all five of their previous semi-finals in various competitions.

Coach Unai Emery, a former Arsenal manager, won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla and is on the brink of glory once more.

“Villarreal have missed out on so many semi-final chances to reach the final but now, finally, we’ve done it,” said defender Pau Torres. “It’s time to enjoy right now but immediately important to prepare the final really well because that’s a historic opportunity.”

They almost repeated their early goal from the first leg but keeper Bernd Leno saved well from Samuel Chukwueze, who was later carried off injured.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post in the first half for Arsenal with a curling shot and headed onto the woodwork with his last involvement before being substituted 10 minutes from time due to lingering effect of a malaria infection.

But Villarreal held on to claim a historic date with United later this month and Arsenal -- a lowly ninth domestically -- face a bitterly disappointing conclusion to the campaign.

“We are devastated, really disappointed but we have to congratulate Villarreal on reaching the final,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

 

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