UEFA Europa League 2020-21: Key takeaways from the semi-finals
The 2020-21 edition of the UEFA Europa League is set to see Manchester United face Villarreal in the final on May 26. United have reached their second UEL final, aiming to win the trophy for the second time after doing so in 2016-17. Villarreal have reached their maiden finale. The two sides beat AS Roma and Arsenal respectively in the semis. Here's more.
United overcame Roma 6-2 in Manchester before losing 3-2 away in Rome. They sealed the two-legged tie 8-5 on aggregate. Edinson Cavani stood out with four goals and two assists for United. Meanwhile, Spanish side Villarreal edged past Arsenal. They earned a valuable 2-1 win at home and then managed to hold Arsenal 0-0 at the Emirates to seal matters.
Cavani showed his class for United in a record-breaking performance over the two legs. He scored twice in each legs and contributed with two assists. The veteran forward was agile and gave United the breathing space with an electrifying performance. On the other hand, Bruno Fernandes was United's architect. He scored two goals and provided three assists to continue his supremacy.
Roma had the desired 2-1 lead at Old Trafford before United haunted them with a unbelievable second half show, banging in five goals. The Italian side dominated the clash in Rome but fell behind. However, they sprung back to life with a strong second half show. Roma could have had more goals but United goalie David de Gea stood in the way.
Arsenal are set to be out of Europe for the first time in 25 years. They needed to win the UEL to continue their run of appearing in European competitions. Over the two legs, Mikel Arteta's side was found wanting. The players were too ponderous and lacked the cutting edge. They needed a goal at home to qualify but lacked the desired composure.
Villarreal boss Unai Emery knows the Europa League well after having tasted success on three successive occasions with Sevilla in the past. He also led Arsenal to the UEL final in 2019. Emery got the desired balance and prevented Arsenal from making inroads. He won the tactical battle and his side responded by being disciplined and well-drilled. Villarreal will look up to Emery's experience.