Manchester United's dominance in this season's UEFA Europa League continued at Old Traffor as they dismantled Paulo Fonseca's AS Roma in the first leg of the semi-final by a scoreline of 6-2.
The Red Devils have won two of their three knockout ties in the competition so far by a scoreline of 4-0 and made light work of the Giallorossi after completing another spectacular comeback after going into half-time trailing 2-1.
The hosts took an early lead after Bruno Fernandes effortlessly lobbed Pau Lopez to cap off a superb team move. Although they looked comfortable in the opening exchanges of the game, their lead lasted for barely six minutes. Paul Pogba conceded a cheap penalty to the visitors, which was dispatched from the spot by Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini.
The equaliser seemed to have jolted the hosts, who watched the visitors take the lead on 33 minutes after a poor piece of defending by Manchester United was capitalised on by Roma. Pellegrini slid the ball to Edin Dzeko, who was waiting inside the box and found the back of the net from close range.
Despite the lead, the Giallorossi were extremely unlucky in terms of their injuries as they were forced into making three changes within the first 45 minutes. It was ultimately of little consequence, however, as the second half completely belonged to Manchester United. They ran Roma ragged and turned the tie around with a spectacular display.
Just three minutes after the restart, Edinson Cavani came up with a sublime finish past substitute Roma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante to equalise for Manchester United. From the 64th minute, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men embarked on a stunning 22-minute blitz that saw them put four goals past Fonseca's side.
Cavani doubled his tally for the night and scored the winner to complete the comeback after Mirante parried a cross from Aaron Wan-Bissaka into the Uruguayan's path. The 34-year-old was then caught by a rash tackle from Chris Smalling, and Fernandes converted the subsequent penalty for his second of the night.
Just four minutes after the fourth goal, Fernandes turned creator as his measured cross into the box was headed in by Pogba for Manchester United's fifth of the night. Mason Greenwood came on for the last 20 minutes or so of the game, and he applied further gloss to the scoreline as the Englishman latched onto an excellent ball from Cavani to dispatch it past Mirante.
Although the second leg is yet to be played in Rome, Manchester United have effectively killed the tie with an absolutely incredible display at Old Trafford, giving them a four-goal cushion to take with them to Italy. They are on the brink of progressing past the semi-final stage for the first time under Solskjaer.
Here, we take a look at some of the best and worst performers on the night as Manchester United thrashed Roma in England.
Hit: Paul Pogba | Manchester United
Paul Pogba was excellent on the night in as he helped Manchester United keep control of proceedings, particularly in the final third. The Frenchman played a huge part in creating the first goal as he ghosted past two onrushing Roma defenders to find Cavani, who then slid the ball to Fernandes.
Even apart from his well-taken goal in the second half, Pogba was one of the best players on the pitch against Roma. He completed more dribbles (four), won more fouls (four), and won more duels (ten) than any other player across both sides during the game.
The only blot on what was a perfect night for 28-year-old was the cheap penalty he conceded to give Roma a way back into the game. However, the away goal is likely to be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, given the four-goal advantage they hold.
Flop: Bryan Cristante | AS Roma
Although he's a midfielder by trade, Bryan Cristante must be praised for showing enough versatility by stepping into defence, much like he has on a few occasions this season. That being said, at Old Trafford, he was arguably one of the worst players on the night across both sides.
The Italian was poor on the ball, weak in the tackle, and given the high line that Roma held throughout the game, he was very slow in returning to help his defence out. It was a lacklustre display in every way from Cristante, who was nowhere to be seen for most of the goals they conceded on the night.
The 26-year-old also failed to track his runners and could not react in time even when he did, which ensured that Cavani and Fernandes had a field day against the Italians.