Manchester United suffered a 3-2 defeat to Roma in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final tie on Thursday but still progressed to the final.
Armed with a staggering 6-2 first-leg lead, the Premier League giants went to Italy to complete what seemed to be a routine task.
However, there was nothing simple for United in Rome as the Serie A side did everything in their power to give the visitors a rough ride.
As expected, high-octane end-to-end action highlighted the encounter at the Stadio Olimpico as Roma had no other option but to go on the attack.
Forced to chase a four-goal first-leg deficit, the Giallorossi tried to impose a high rhythm from the start, with Gianluca Mancini almost breaking the deadlock inside the opening four minutes.
Meanwhile, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to give up his attacking-minded football, continually pushing his side forward.
The visitors ventured forward whenever they saw an opportunity, with Edinson Cavani’s cheeky chip over Antonio Mirante in the 20th minute ending up on the wrong end of the crossbar.
The Uruguayan striker missed another chance only four minutes later as Mirante pulled out a massive save to thwart his powerful attempt from inside the box.
However, the third time was the charm for the 34-year-old, who showed composure in a one-on-one situation after receiving a well-timed through ball from Fred to put United ahead.
Roma produced an intense pressure spell at the start of the second half, forcing United deep into their own territory.
The hosts’ unrelenting pressure paid off in the 57th minute when Edin Dzeko headed home to give the Italians an ounce of hope that a miracle was possible.
Optimism hit the stratosphere just three minutes later as Bryan Cristante smashed the ball into the back of the net following a frenzied spell of possession.
Encouraged by a quick-fire double, Paulo Fonseca’s men continued to cause all sorts of problems for Harry Maguire and co.
Around the hour mark, United’s place in the Europa League final was hanging in the balance.
Unable to cope with Roma’s ferocious attacks, the Red Devils needed a hero and David de Gea came up big.
The Spaniard reminded Solskjaer of his qualities to deny Dzeko and Pedro in quick succession and prevent further damage.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan almost managed to upset his former side in the 63rd minute, but the 30-year-old keeper’s stunning reflexes kept the Armenian’s point-blank effort range at bay.
A series of huge misses from Fonseca’s side helped United rally the troops and find their way back into the game.
Roma were brutally punished for the squandered opportunities. Cavani scored his second of the match after a delightful cross from Bruno Fernandes after 68 minutes.
The veteran’s header put this tie to bed when it looked like the Red Devils could compromise everything good they did in the first leg.
Despite seeing their fate sealed, the Giallorossi never abandoned the idea of scoring a third and eventually managed to secure a consolation win.
Second-half substitute Nicola Zalewski unleashed a brilliant volley that took a deflection off Alex Telles to find a way through de Gea’s legs.
Roma ultimately bowed out of the competition but did so proudly while United will now take on Unai Emery’s Villarreal side in the final.
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