Manchester United, Arsenal, Villareal, and Roma advance to the semis of this year’s Europa League competition
By: Emmanuel Mendez
The Europa League competition is close to its end as the quarterfinals are finished and the semifinals are on the way. The best four clubs remain and almost all four of them got through the semis comfortably.
The favorites of the competition, Manchester United, took on a Granada side that surprised many in this year’s competition. Previously eliminating Napoli, Granada looked to surprise football fans again by eliminating Manchester United. Manchester United didn’t have trouble as they defeated Granada 2-0 away from home. Marcus Rashford scored the first goal with incredible control of the ball. Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty given in the 90th minute.
The second leg was also another comfortable victory as United win 2-0 at home. Edison Cavani scored a fantastic left-footed volley and put it on the bottom right corner. The second goal was courtesy of an own goal by Granada defender Jesus Vallejo in the 90th minute. United advance to the semis with a 4-0 aggregate score.
Villareal took on Dinamo Zagreb, another team in the competition who surprised many by eliminating Tottenham Hotspur. In the first leg, Villareal scored a penalty converted by top goal scorer Gerard Moreno before halftime. That would be the only goal of the game and it finished 1-0 to Villareal away from home.
The second leg showed Villareal great attacking assets in play with Paco Alcacer scoring the first and then 7 minutes later, Moreno scored the second. It was 2-0 at halftime and Villareal was in a comfortable position. Zagreb would eventually score one courtesy by Mislav Orsic in the 74th minute but it wasn’t enough. Villareal wins 2-1 and goes through with an aggregate score of 3-1.
The closest fixture of the quarterfinals was Ajax against Roma. In the first leg, Ajax kept creating chances and eventually scored. Davy Klaassen scored in the 39th minute and was leading at halftime. In the second half, Lorenzo Pellegrini scored from a free-kick but help by a goalkeeping mistake by Kjell Scherpen. In the 87th minute, Ibanez would score from a corner after striking it at the roof of the net. It was a strong shot Scherpen couldn’t stop and Roma turned it around. The game ended 2-1 in favor of Roma.
The second leg was much closer however Ajax was still threatening the Roma box. Ajax would score in the 49th minute by 19-year-old Brian Brobbey. Ajax scored again but it was ruled out by the VAR because of a foul before the goal by Tagliafico against Mkhitaryan. Roma`s Edin Dzeko scored the equalizer and would be enough to advance. The match ended 1-1 but the aggerate score was 3-2 for Roma.
Arsenal and Slavia Praha faced on in a tight first leg. Arsenal couldn’t find the ball in the back of the net until the 86th minute when Nicolas Pepe slightly chipped it past the Slavia Praha goalkeeper. It looked to be the last goal of the game until Tomas Holes scored in the 93rd minute to score an equalizer and an important away goal. The match ended 1-1 and pressure was on Arsenal to do well in the second leg.
And that’s exactly what Arsenal did as they won the game 4-0. Arsenal had a great first half and in 6 minutes, they scored three goals. Nicolas Pepe scored again in this game in the 18th minute followed by a penalty scored by Alexander Lacazette in the 21st minute. Three minutes later, 19-year-old Bukayo Saka would score the third and it was pure domination from the English side. In the second half, Lacazette would score again in the 77th minute the game concluded. Arsenal advance with an aggregate score of 5-1.
Arsenal will be playing against Villareal. Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery will look to take his new club to the Europa League final. Arsenal needs to win this competition to make the Champions League next season.
Manchester United will play against Roma, who also look to make the champions league after having troubles in their respective league. This will be another semifinal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and will look to finally win one.