Europa League PIX: Man United, Roma ease into semis

IMAGES from Europa League matches played on Thursday.

Manchester United reached the Europa League semi-finals after Edinson Cavani’s early strike and a Jesus Vallejo own goal secured a 2-0 home win over Granada on Thursday and completed a 4-0 aggregate rout of the Spanish side.

ud leg of their quarter-final.

Cavani netted his 50th goal in European competition with a clinical sixth-minute finish as United made a bright start, volleying past goalkeeper Rui Silva after Paul Pogba flicked a header into the Uruguayan’s stride.

Granada came to life after falling behind and their forward Yangel Herrera twice headed inches wide as the home side appeared content to sit back.

Bruno Fernandes fired narrowly over the bar with a rasping first-time volley in the 34th minute and Cavani headed wide of the far post before United keeper David De Gea denied Herrera with a fine save.

Vallejo scored at the wrong end of the pitch in the 90th minute as Alex Telles swung in a cross from the left and the centre back gave Silva no chance with a misdirected header which ended up in the bottom corner.

Fernandes said he was confident United, beaten by eventual winners Sevilla in last season’s semi-finals, could overcome Roma.

“Every team will give you problems,” the Portugal midfielder told BT Sport.

“They have a good organisation defensively; they can create problems offensively. Some of their players have played in England. We know what we have to do. If we do the right things, we will have our chances to win the game.”

The last four opens up the prospect of an all-English final as Villarreal face Arsenal in the other semi after the Gunners thrashed Slavia Prague 4-0 away to complete a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Resolute Roma earn Ajax draw to reach Europa League semis

AS Roma advanced to the Europa League semi-finals with a 3-2 aggregate win over Ajax Amsterdam after Edin Dzeko’s late equaliser secured a 1-1 home draw on Thursday.

The Italian side will now face Manchester United, who beat Granada 2-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate in their quarter-final second leg, for a place in next month’s final.

Brian Brobbey struck for Ajax four minutes after his halftime introduction but Dzeko’s 72nd minute finish levelled the scores in the quarter-final second leg.

The visitors dominated possession and had a second goal disallowed for a Nicolas Tagliafico foul but struggled to again break down a resolute home defence despite a late onslaught.

“We had more problems in Amsterdam, but today we controlled them well,” Roma coach Paulo Fonseca told Sky Italia. “Ajax are a very strong team with great quality, but defensively we played a great game.”

It was another frustrating night for Ajax, who finished both legs with more shots on target and possession than their opponents, but could not make their dominance count.

Roma are Italy’s last remaining representatives in European competition this season, and the clash with United will be their first European semi-final since a 7-6 aggregate defeat by Liverpool in the 2017/18 Champions League.

“It’s satisfying. Reaching a semi-final is cause for pride, we are representing Italy at the moment that’s a source of pride for Roma,” Fonseca added.

Roma threatened early on as Lorenzo Pellegrini sprinted half the length of the pitch but was let down by a weak finish, and Jordan Veretout’s close-range effort was ruled out for offside.

The visitors’ best chance of the first half came courtesy of a Roma error when Antony intercepted a careless pass by goalkeeper Pau Lopez and cut a cross back to Davy Klaassen, but the midfielder was denied by a crucial Amadou Diawara block.

Ajax had 75% of the possession in the first half without finding a breakthrough but it eventually came four minutes into the second half when 19-year-old Brobbey latched onto a long ball and knocked a finish beyond the onrushing Lopez.

It was the Netherlands Under-21 striker’s third goal from the bench in the Europa League this season, more than any other player.

Ajax were in the ascendancy and found the net again when Dusan Tadic fired home after a Lopez parry, but his effort was disallowed following a VAR review for a previous Tagliafico foul on Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Roma’s chances were few and far between but striker Dzeko clinically took his when a deflected cross fell into the Bosnian’s path at the back post for a tap-in.

Arsenal thrash Slavia Prague to reach Europa League semis

Arsenal cruised past Slavia Prague 4-0 to book a Europa League semi-final spot on Thursday after they struck three quick-fire goals in seven first-half minutes to advance 5-1 on aggregate.

Alexandre Lacazette scored twice, including a penalty, while Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka also found the net in the quarter-final second leg to set up a last-four clash with Villarreal.

Arsenal, surprisingly held to a 1-1 home draw by the Czech champions, signalled their intent from the start as they pressed forward to create chances while Slavia struggled to move the ball out of their own half and rarely threatened in attack.

“I feel like in the first leg we played really well but didn’t take our chances,” Arsenal’s Saka told BT Sport.

“The way we pressed, they couldn’t get out and the control we had over the game, the movement, the rotations, they couldn’t stop us.”

The visitors opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Pepe drove a shot home from a pass by Emile Smith-Rowe, who had a goal disallowed for offside minutes earlier after a VAR review.

Lacazette then coolly slotted in a spot-kick after 21 minutes after Czech midfielder Jakub Hromada bundled over Saka. Arsenal struck again three minutes later when Saka cut inside a defender and fired a low shot past keeper Ondrej Kolar.

Lacazette netted his second of the night in the 77th minute when he latched onto Pepe’s cross before jinking away from two defenders to create some space to beat the Czech keeper.

Arsenal, who ended Slavia’s 21-match unbeaten streak at home in all competitions this season, next face their former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal side who beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate to reach the semis.

Slavia, who made four changes after the break, were without defender Ondrej Kudela who was serving a 10-match UEFA ban for “racist behaviour” in their Europa League last-16 match against Scottish side Rangers last month.

The home side, who beat Leicester City as well as Rangers en route to the quarter finals, reached the end of the road against an Arsenal side that pressured the Czechs all over the pitch.

Alcacer and Moreno send Villarreal into Europa League last four

First-half strikes from Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno guided Villarreal into the Europa League semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday and a 3-1 aggregate triumph.

Villarreal dominated the game and almost took the lead after 25 minutes when forward Samuel Chukwueze rattled the post with a close-range volley.

They did not have to wait long to open the scoring, however, with Alcacer netting 10 minutes later. Chukwueze was initially flagged offside in the build-up, but the goal was allowed to stand following a VAR check.

Moreno doubled the hosts’ lead three minutes before the break after Alcacer’s effort had been parried by Dominik Livakovic in the Dinamo goal following a marauding run from centre back Raul Albiol to tee up the chance.

The visitors rallied after the break and Geronimo Rulli was forced into a couple of smart stops in the Villarreal goal while at the other end Chukwueze and Moreno spurned chances to ensure victory.

Mislav Orsic pulled one back for Zagreb 15 minutes from time, but far from setting up a nervy finale the visitors never threatened to get back into the tie as the Spaniards held firm.

“This club with the short history that it has has done so much in La Liga and Europe, which shows just how well it all works here,” midfielder Dani Parejo said.

“We’ve been brilliant in this competition since the group stages. It’s just a shame the fans can’t be here, as these are the kind of matches you want to play in front of your fans – but this win is for them,” he added.

“We took the initiative and controlled things. Yes, they got one back, but we were the better side throughout the tie.”

Villarreal will face their coach Unai Emery’s former club Arsenal in the last four after the English side overcame Slavia Prague.

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