At the end of 90 minutes in Rome and London, it was Manchester United and Villarreal who made it to the final of Europa League.
The English team was confronted by the Italian side, AS Roma, who in the first leg of their encounter was thoroughly beaten. Although the second leg match ended 3-2 in favor of Roma, Man U scaled through on a 5-8 aggregate, having won the first leg 6-2.
On Tuesday, Roma announced the signing of Jose Mourinho, who was recently sacked by English side Tottenham Hotspur, to perform a miraculous comeback. But it proved mission impossible for “the Special One” who watched helplessly as his former team Man United scored additional two goals to seal Roma’s coffin.
Edinson Cavani scored both United goals in the semi-final match that produced 13 goals.
The Uruguayan opened the scoring with a fabulous first-half effort, then found the net with a fine header from Bruno Fernandes’ excellent floated pass in the second half.
Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær appeared to have learnt a bitter lesson from his last season’s semi-final defeat by Sevilla.
The results sealed Man United’s destiny for the May 26 duel with Villarreal in Poland, and Ole, who has been repeatedly maligned with the #OleOut hashtag at every given failure of Man United, couldn’t hide his joy.
“It feels good to be in the final. We played one very, very good half at Old Trafford which has taken us through. I’m disappointed we lost – especially the way we played in the second half.
“It could easily have been 8-6 to them. It was a strange game. We kept giving them the ball but luckily we have one of the the best keepers in the world. We are in the final and are looking forward to 26 May.”
However, Arsenal was not on the side of celebration as the London club couldn’t get the two needed goals against Villarreal to set up an all English Europa League final.
Led by former Arsenal coach, Unai Emery, who was axed late 2019 for poor performances to make way for current coach Mikel Arteta, the Yellow Submarinos defended their hard-earned first leg 2-1 victory, holding the Gunners from shooting pass the goal line.
Apart from killing the only chance that Arsenal had to win a silverware this season, the result has compounded Arteta’s woes in the North London club, as supporters called for his sack at the end of the match.
Arsenal is at the ninth position in the Premiership table, that means, it has slim chance of playing in any European competition next season and Arteta didn’t hide his pain.
“We are devastated,” Arteta said on BT Sport. “Really disappointed. We have to congratulate Villarreal. We tried everything until the last minute. I think we deserved to win the game but the details define these ties.
“We had three big chances, they didn’t have anything but they are through. So many things happened to us, and so many players were just trying to compete not at their best.”
It is not clear what this result will mean for the embattled Arteta, what is clear is that it has put four English teams, including Chelsea’s female team, in the final of European competitions in a single season.
For the qualifiers, the final will be a must-win fight as both teams are trophy-starved. United are without a trophy since 2017 when they last won this competition, their longest run since the five-year gap between 1985 and 1990. Villarreal won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 03/04 season and are hungry to touch a trophy once again. Ole and Unai will be going head-to-head come May 26, to decide who wears the crown.