Manchester United booked their place in the semifinals of the Europa League with a 2-0 win over Granada at Old Trafford on Thursday. An early opener from Edinson Cavani and a late own goal from Granada defender Jesús Vallejo earned the Reds a 4-0 aggregate victory, setting up a meeting with Italian giants Roma in the semifinals.
If the tie wasn’t already over when the referee sounded the game’s first whistle, it was six minutes later. A floated Alex Telles cross found Paul Pogba, whose brilliant backwards header was volleyed home by Edinson Cavani. It was a great goal, displaying both Pogba’s superb spatial awareness, and Cavani’s clinical finishing.
With United three up on aggregate and already thinking of the semifinals, the first half lacked a sense of urgency. Granada did create a couple of chances from set pieces, though on both occasions Yangel Herrera flicked headers off-target. At the other end, a deep Nemanja Matić pass found Bruno Fernandes free in the box, though his brilliant van Persiesque volley dipped past the far post.
Chances followed at both ends early in the second half. A deep cross found veteran striker Jorge Molina, though his header hit the ground before bouncing up into David de Gea’s gloves. Moments later, Donny van de Beek picked out an unmarked Mason Greenwood with a floaty cross from the right, though the latter’s header was tame and comfortably saved. Just short of the hour, Fernandes picked out Cavani from the edge of the area, though the ball flashed off the Uruguayan’s shoulder and wide of the far post.
With both sides looking less than deadly in front of goal, and United comfortably in front, the game petered out into an unspectacular end. That was until stoppage time, when Granada defender Jesús Vallejo, in such a hurry to stop Juan Mata getting on the end of a Telles cross, diverted it past his own goalkeeper with his face. The goal sealed United’s 2-0 win on the night, and a 4-0 win on aggregate.
United will play Roma at Old Trafford in the first leg of their semifinal on 29 April, while Arsenal travel to Villarreal.