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Football | Manchester United put six past Roma

Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes both scored twice as Manchester United came from behind to take firm control of their Europa League semi-final first leg in a 6-2 thrashing of Roma at Old Trafford.

United’s run of four consecutive semi-final defeats under manager Ole Gunnar Solskajaer looks like to be coming to an end that if they can see off a possible Roma comeback ahead of next Thursday’s second leg tie.

Fernandes gave United a dream start inside nine minutes after Cavani's one touch pass allowed the Portuguese midfielder to chip Roma goalkeeper Paul Lopez.

A Paul Pogba handball presented Roma with a lifeline, allowing Lorenzo Pellegrini to convert from the penalty spot to draw the Serie A visitors level. The skipper was then involved in setting up Edin Dzeko for Roma's second after United were caught sleeping at the back, allowing Pellegrini to cross towards the back post to Dzeko who converted from close range.

The absence of trio Leonardo Spinazzola, Jordan Veretout and Lopez - who all went off as first half substitutes due to injury - didn’t help Roma as they were forced into three changes that they didn’t want to make.

Roma took a 2-1 lead with them at half-time and briefly looking like causing an upset, but the visitors soon tired allowing United to blow them away with five second-half goals.

The equaliser came from Cavani, whose left footed shot found its way into the top corner of the net after Fernandes crossed into the box in search of the Uruguayan.

The comeback was complete just six minutes after the hour mark after Cavani converted with the simplest of tap ins after Aaron Wan-Bissaka's initial effort was saved by substitute goalkeeper Antonio Mirante.

Fernandes, who has now scord 19 out 20 penalties for the Red Devils, added his second of the game after Cavani was adjudged to have been fouled by former United defender Chris Smalling.

The Portuguese intonational made no mistake in converting the spot kick, sending Mirante the wrong way and rattling the ball into the top left corner.

The fifth goal came from the head of Pogba after Fernandes crossed towards the back post for the Frenchman, who rose highest to plant a firm headed shot towards the far corner. Mirante manages to get the slightest of fingertips to it the but, the power was unable to prevent him from saving it.

There was time for substitute Mason Greenwood to join in the fun after Cavani picked out the run of the English forward with a delightful left-footed pass.

The Red Devils have one foot in the final, and will carry a four-goal cushion to Rome next week.

In tonight's other Europa League semi-final first leg, Arsenal suffered a 2-1 defeat to Villareal in Spain.

Manuel Trigueros gave the La Liga side the perfect start, finding the net in the fifth minute after being picked out by Samuel Chukwueze. Veteran defender Raul Albiol doubled Villareal's lead in the 29th minute, leaving the Gunners with a mountain to climb.

Nicolas Pepe halved the deficit with a 79th-minute penalty for Mikel Arteta's visitors, before Etienne Capoue was shown his second yellow for the hosts.

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