Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to end the season on a high after Manchester United set-up a Europa League semi-final against Roma.
Marcus Rashford’s strike and a late Bruno Fernandes penalty in Granada last week put the Red Devils in control of their quarter-final tie against the European debutants.
United followed that up with another 2-0 win on Thursday, when Edinson Cavani’s early volley and a late Jesus Vallejo own goal sealed a 4-0 aggregate triumph and the club’s 18th continental semi-final.
Roma stand between Solskjaer’s side and the Gdansk finale – a tie which brings back memories of United’s remarkable 8-3 aggregate triumph against the Italian side in the 2007 Champions League quarter-finals.
Solskjaer was involved in both legs and the current Giallorossi side includes Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling – starters when United won the Europa League in 2017.
“We lost the away game but the odd thing was the manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) was so happy after that defeat – I’ve never seen him that happy after losing a game,” the United boss said, having provided an assist in the 2-1 away loss before coming on in the 7-1 Old Trafford triumph.
“He was so confident we were going to win the home game so surreal experience, really. We need to make the most of it. We’ve got a chance to go to a final. Today, well done. Disciplined job, professional and not really under too much pressure.”
Solskjaer is hoping to make it fifth time lucky after United fell short in four semi-finals across last season and this.
“Let’s hope so,” said the Norwegian, who is looking for his first trophy in charge.
“You know, when you get to a semi, that’s the nature of the game – you’re playing against good teams.
“We played against some good teams but we relish the chance again to go to a final. I’ve seen the determination, the attitude in every player that we want to go one further. The disappointment of the defeats that we’ve had, they give us the motivation to go one step further and hopefully end the season on a high.”
Paul Pogba skippered the side in the absence of suspended Harry Maguire and provided a smart assist for Cavani’s opener.
But the midfielder was replaced at the end of a first half in which Granada called for him to receive a second booking.
“I didn’t want to risk a scenario where he went into a tackle and was a bit late,” Solskjaer said.
“I thought he went in fairly, won a few, got a couple of fouls against him which I didn’t think were fouls, so there was no point risking him and Donny (Van De Beek) needed a game and he did well.
“But Paul’s a leader on and off the pitch. I’ve got quite few of them.”
Granada counterpart Diego Martinez felt Pogba should have been sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the first half but pride was his overriding post-match emotion.
“We weren’t clinical enough,” he said after their maiden European campaign ended in the quarter-finals.
“I think we deserved a goal today and in the first match. We have great values.
“We’re a team who, as you’ll have seen, went out with our heads held high and competing till the last second, and in that sense I take my hat off to them.
“A quarter-final of the Europa League against United at Old Trafford is tremendous.”
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