Solskjaer hopes Cavani will extend stay at Old Trafford

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani scoring the team's third goal in their 6-2 Europa League semi-final, first-leg win on Thursday. He ended the night with two goals and two assists.
Manchester United's Edinson Cavani scoring the team's third goal in their 6-2 Europa League semi-final, first-leg win on Thursday. He ended the night with two goals and two assists.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer intends to do everything in his power to try and convince Edinson Cavani to stay at the club for another season, after the Red Devils all but banished their semi-final hoodoo on Thursday.

United are aiming to get to a final under Solskjaer at the fifth time of asking after four defeats in the past two seasons at this stage.

Only a second-leg collapse in Rome next week will prevent them from facing Villarreal or Arsenal in Gdansk, Poland on May 26.

A stunning second-half display saw them come back from 2-1 down to thrash injury-hit Roma 6-2 in the Europa League at Old Trafford.

Lorenzo Pellegrini's penalty and Edin Dzeko's goal had cancelled out Bruno Fernandes' opener, but the Italians lost three players before the break and United regained control as they seek to end a four-year trophy drought.

Two predatory finishes from Cavani turned the tie around before Fernandes - who had two assists - also fired home from the spot.

Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood rounded off the scoring as United became the first team to score six goals in a European semi-final since Real Madrid in 1964.

"Very pleased with the response," said Solskjaer. "Second half, we were very good."

The combination play of Pogba, Fernandes and Cavani consistently sliced open the visitors' defence, as they only marginally avoided a repeat of the 7-1 hammering they suffered at Old Trafford in the 2006-07 Champions League quarter-finals - Roma's record defeat in Europe.

"We know we've got creative players, players who can create big chances, score goals, it's about getting them in the positions," added Solskjaer.

"Marcus (Rashford), Bruno, Paul, Edinson are all capable. The difference today is we took most of our chances."

Cavani was outstanding on the night, recording two assists and earning a penalty. The Uruguay striker signed a one-season deal in October with an option of another 12 months, but remains undecided about whether to extend his stay.

The 34-year-old has been a success with 12 goals in all competitions. But reports suggest he is leaning towards returning home to South America, after being angered by a social media faux pas that resulted in a three-game ban by the Football Association.

On what Cavani's experience brings to the team, Solskjaer said: "He's more than just a goal poacher and good goal-scorer. He's played for so long that he has that calmness and composure about him."

The United boss also hopes the prospect of playing in front of supporters - Premier League crowds are likely to be allowed back into grounds for next season - will sway him as United "have got the best fans".

In the other semi-final, Unai Emery won his first reunion with Arsenal but the 2-1 victory was bittersweet for Villarreal, who failed to take full advantage of Dani Ceballos' red card and had Etienne Capoue sent off 10 minutes from time.

Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol gave the hosts a dream start, before a 10-man Arsenal rallied after the break and got a vital away goal via Nicolas Pepe's penalty to leave the tie in the balance.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2021, with the headline 'Solskjaer hopes Cavani will extend stay at Old Trafford'. Subscribe