Europa League: Manchester United crush Roma, Arsenal fall to Villareal

Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani scored two each, as Manchester United took a giant step towards the Europa League final with a 6-2 drubbing of AS Roma in their semi-final first leg at Old Trafford on Friday (NZ time).

In the ninth minute, Fernandes put United ahead but Roma cancelled that opener out six minutes later, with a Lorenzo Pellegrini penalty due to a handball by Paul Pogba.

Former Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko put the Italian side ahead, but Roma were forced into making three injury substitutions in the opening half and struggled without fresh legs after the break.

Cavani then struck twice in quick succession before a Fernandes penalty, Pogba header and Mason Greenwood goal completed an impressive turnaround for the Premier League side.

In the day's second tie, Villarreal claimed a narrow advantage in their semi-final against Arsenal with a 2-1 home victory in the first leg, although they will feel frustrated at letting the London club off the hook.

First-half goals by Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put the Spanish club in command, and it looked bleak for the visitors when Dani Ceballos was sent off just before the hour mark.

Arsenal were rocking and needed keeper Bernd Leno to avoid them slipping further behind, but were thrown a lifeline, when Nicolas Pepe converted a 73rd-minute penalty.

A chaotic game took another twist, as Villarreal were also reduced to 10 men, when former Tottenham Hotspur player Etienne Capoue received a second yellow card.

Villarreal, coached by former Arsenal manager and Europe League specialist Unai Emery, maintained their 100 percent home record in the competition this season.

But the tie remains delicately balanced ahead of next week's return in London.