United came flying out of the traps and took the lead after just nine minutes. Some excellent link up play then saw Cavani find Fernandes and the Portuguese lifted the ball over Pau Lopez to make it 1-0. It was a really smart finish by Fernandes and United were off to a flyer!
Roma hit back almost immediately when they were awarded a penalty in the fifteenth minute. Pogba was penalized when the ball had struck his arm as he attempted to block a cross from the right hand side. It was a very harsh call and the United players were livid. Lorenzo Pellegrini stepped up and fired the ball past David de Gea to make it 1-1. Game on!
The equalizer had gave Roma real belief and just before half time they took the lead. After some neat play Pellegrini’s cross found ex City man Edin Dzeko who tapped in to make it 2-1. Roma lead at the break but more importantly they had two away goals. United needed a big second half!
United started the second half just like the first but this time struck even earlier. A swift break caught Roma out and Fernandes played in Cavani who produced a fabulous finish to beat substitute keeper Mirante in the Roma goal. United had flown out of the traps and pulled themselves level within 3 minutes of the restart. There was no way this game was finishing 2-2!
The game was being played at 100mph. Had there been a crowd inside Old Trafford they’d of been on the edge of their seats. Roma had certainly played their part in the game but United were now in control and looked like scoring at any moment. Fernandes and Pogba were running the show, Roma were getting pulled all over the Old Trafford pitch.
Cavani was really in the mood and just past the hour mark he doubled his tally and put United back in front. A Wan-Bissaka cross was parried into the path of Cavani and the Uruguayan couldn’t miss. Now Roma had to come from behind for a second time but this half United were a different animal.
Roma were all at sea and seven minutes after conceding a third it got worse for the Serie A side. Cavani was fouled as he made a front post run and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Fernandes stepped up and emphatically dispatched the penalty to make it 4-2 to United. That was Fernandes’s 25th goal of the season in all competitions.
United were in so much control it was frightening and Roma were in real danger of the tie being over in the first leg. Every time United came forward you felt they were going to score. It was relentless from Solskjaer’s side, Roma couldn’t live with them.
Pogba had been excellent and the only thing missing from his performance was a goal. But with just over fifteen minutes remaining he got it. Fernandes picked him out with a sumptuous cross and the World Cup winner headed the ball past Mirante to get his first of the night and United’s fifth! The home side were in cruise control.
United weren’t finished there. Ten minutes after getting a fifth they added a sixth to really rub salt in the Roma wounds. Cavani found sub Mason Greenwood with a sublime pass and the teenager raced forward before firing the ball across Mirante into the back of the Roma net. 6-2 and it was no more than United deserved.
There’d been some excellent performances all across the pitch from the home side but Pogba had been outstanding. His passing, movement off the ball and link up play had been a joy to watch. United need to do everything they can to keep him at Old Trafford next season. If they do surely that would trigger Fernandes into signing a new deal as well.
At one point Roma had looked in good shape but United shifted through the gears in the second half ripping the Serie A side to shreds. The Italian side had been unable to live with the fast flowing attacking Football and they now have a mountain to climb in Rome next week.
Man of the Match: Paul Pogba