Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reached a grand final as manager of Manchester United for the first time after a 3-2 defeat to AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico was enough to give his side an 8-5 aggregate victory in the Europa League semi-finals at Thursday.
United will face Villarreal in the final in Gdansk on May 26 after the Spaniards beat Arsenal 2-1.
Solskjaer had lost his last four semifinals during his reign at Old Trafford and despite Thursday’s defeat in Rome, the Norwegian side made comfortable progress thanks to an impressive 6-2 victory in last week’s first leg.
“It’s a great achievement to get to the final. We didn’t win the game, which is disappointing, but we worked hard in the first leg, ”United captain Harry Maguire told BT Sport.
“We started the game a bit tense. It was end-to-end like basketball and we gave them too many chances in the second half. Now we have to go to the final and win it. ”
Edinson Cavani shot into a powerful finish at 39 minutes to open the scoring, but Roma just found it twice in three minutes in the second half via Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante to turn the game upside down.
United had to thank goalkeeper David de Gea for not falling further behind, as the Spaniard made a series of fantastic saves.
Cavani led the attendance level, but 19-year-old rookie Nicola Zalewski’s shot took a big deflection from Alex Telles to beat De Gea as Roma secured victory that evening – but it was United that stayed at the final whistle. to celebrate.
“We’ve had some great European nights this season, with some big wins. It’s a shame for the second half in Manchester, ”Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante told UEFA.
“We still had a few more goals to score tonight, but we leave the league with our heads held high.”
Solskjaer’s team had stumbled in the semi-finals of two League Cups, the FA Cup and the Europa League since replacing Jose Mourinho in December 2018, but another exit never seemed likely in the Italian capital.
Earlier this week, Mourinho, who led United to their final trophy by winning the Europa League in 2017, was surprisingly named as Roma’s new coach next season.
Hence, the hosts started out as a team with a point to prove.
De Gea excellently denied Gianluca Mancini from a point-blank range, Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed into the side netting and Dzeko once again drew the Spanish goalkeeper’s clever save.
But United grew in the game and got close when a clever Cavani lob snipped the top of the crossbar, before a powerful shot from the Uruguayan was saved by Antonio Mirante.
The visitors took the lead shortly after, when a pass from Fred Cavani shot through to shoot home.
Roma came right on the 57th minute when Dzeko headed in from close range, and Paulo Fonseca’s side quickly completed the comeback when Cristante scored from the edge of the area three minutes later.
De Gea produced an excellent double save on a header from Dzeko and a shot from Pedro, before blocking Mkhitaryan’s attempt from a point-blank range.
United survived the attack and came right after 68 minutes when Cavani headed in a Bruno Fernandes cross, but Roma soon threatened again when Mkhitaryan’s shot hit the foot of the post.
Substitute Zalewski immediately made an impression when his volley caused the Roma winner in the 83rd minute, but it went down as a Telles own goal after a heavy deflection.