Old rivals Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho will come face-to-face once more next season.

Mourinho did not stay out of the spotlight for long after his sacking by Tottenham and has been confirmed as the new Roma head coach.

He will join the club ahead of the 2021-22 season on a three-year deal to compete in a league where Conte and his former club Inter have just ended a historic run of Juventus domestic dominance.

A bitter war of words erupted between the high-profile bosses when they were at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively in the Premier League.

Tensions had simmered between the pair since Conte's appointment as Mourinho's long-term successor at Stamford Bridge in 2016.

The Portuguese's proximity as a direct rival at United was never likely to encourage detente.

Mourinho and Conte have met seven times before as managers.

After their first meeting was a draw in 2010 as Inter took on Atalanta, Conte has taken four victories from the six meetings to take place since 2016, with just two wins going to the new Roma boss.

Here we have a look back what both men said during their rivalry at Chelsea and United, reviewing how the row rapidly escalated.
 

Prelude - Defensive teams and Mourinho seasons

Initially, as Chelsea marched to the Premier League title and United collected the EFL Cup and Europa League to compensate for a sixth-place finish in the top flight, the jibes between the two amounted to a sparring session, as opposed to an all-out verbal scrap.

The seeds were sown when Mourinho complained to Conte about his animated celebrations on the touchine – more on those later – as Chelsea thrashed United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in October 2016.

Mourinho's favoured method of damning with faint praise was to the fore in February 2017, when he labelled the Premier League's leading side "a very good defensive team", while Conte warned Chelsea to avoid "the Mourinho season" – a handy shorthand for the perils of a dreadful title defence, such as the one endured at Stamford Bridge in 2015-16.

In addition, Mourinho suggested Conte was one of his rivals who, "they cry, they cry, they cry when a player is injured". In the Italian's opinion, the United boss was overly concerned with matters at his former club. The stage was set.

"I don't behave as a clown on the touchline"

While offering assurances over his United future in January 2018, having appeared increasingly morose around matches, Mourinho identified an aspect of his behaviour he believes sets him apart from his colleagues.

"Because I don't behave as a clown on the touchline it means I lost my passion?" he said. "I prefer to behave the way I am doing it, much more mature, better for my team and myself.

"You don't have to behave like a crazy guy on the touchline to have that passion."

Mourinho could arguably have been referencing Conte, Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp. All three men were asked about his comments at the time; only one took the bait.

"Demenza Senile"

Speaking a day later, Conte was quick to accuse Mourinho of hypocrisy in a rather eye-catching manner.

"I think that he has to see himself in the past, maybe he was speaking about himself in the past, yeah?" he said.

"Maybe sometimes, I think that someone forgets his behaviour and sometimes I think there is, I don't know the name, 'demenza senile' when you are a bit... when you forget what you do in the past."

Despite the literal translation being "senile dementia", Chelsea were forced to clarify Conte had been searching for the Italian word for "amnesia".

Either way, this was now an argument in the gutter. Mourinho seemed happy with that state of affairs and was determined to hit Conte where it hurt most.

"I will never be suspended for match-fixing"

Responding after United's 2-0 FA Cup win over Derby later that day, Mourinho set Conte up with faux-sympathy and empathy – this is all the media's fault, you see – before concluding with a non-veiled dig

 "Look, I don't blame him. Honestly, I don't blame him," he began.

"I think the press should apologise to me and to him because the question that comes to him is completely wrong and because of that he had that out-of-control reaction. But I don't blame him at all."

There followed apparent contrition for past indiscretions. It was all an elaborate set-up.

"The only thing I want to say to end the story is that yes, I made mistakes in the past on the touchline," Mourinho added.

"Yes, I will make less, but I think I will still make a few. What never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match-fixing. That never happened to me and will never happen."

Conte was implicated in a 2011 scandal while in charge of Siena and later served a four-month ban, but always denied any wrongdoing and was acquitted by an Italian judge in May 2016. 

"A little man with a very low profile"

Conte had spoken previously about his personal ordeal throughout the match-fixing affair. Following a 0-0 FA Cup draw for Chelsea at Norwich City, he was understandably in a barely concealed fury.

"I consider him a little man, I consider him a man with a very low profile," Conte said of Mourinho, before airing a recently learned word.

"You have to know the story very well before hurting another person. In the last period, he's suffering a bit of amnesia."

Conte went on to lambast Mourinho for his criticism of Claudio Ranieri before last season seeking to show solidarity with the deposed Leicester City boss.

"I remember for example, a stupid example with Ranieri, when he offended Ranieri for [the standard of] his English," Conte seethed.

"Then when Ranieri was sacked he put on a shirt for Ranieri. You are a fake.

"If you want to fight a person, you try to kill the person, and then after two years you try to help this person, because maybe it's good for you, your profile."

Contempt and no regrets

In the days following that year's FA Cup third-round weekend, Conte underlined that he had "no regrets" over the episode. "He said serious words and used serious words. I won't forget this," he said.

Mourinho then told reporters in no uncertain terms that he had "contempt" for Conte, as a dubious means to draw a line under the issue.

All eyes were on the dugout, then, when the foes met at Old Trafford – a prospect Conte was already eyeing as he glowered at Carrow Road.

"Me and him, face to face," he said of the Premier League match at the Theatre of Dreams. "I'm ready. I don't know if he is ready."

United came from behind to win 2-1, with Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard getting the goals.

The two managers were heavily scrutinised - Mourinho was the first to emerge from the tunnel and the pair did shake hands even after a wait for Conte to make his appearance.

Mourinho and Conte again shook hands after the match and the mood seemed conciliatory.

A truce?

In the months after the match and shortly before the FA Cup final between United and Chelsea in 2018, Mourinho revealed a truce had broken out between the pair.

"He [Conte] stretched out, I stretched, we got bored [arguing]," Mourinho said to Record.

"After the game here in Manchester, I invited him to come to my office. We talked, nothing is wrong."

Conte would go on to have the last laugh in their final meeting in England, beating Mourinho and United 1-0 to lift the FA Cup in his last match in charge of Chelsea before a bitter exit from Stamford Bridge.

Will the truce last? We'll find out next season and potentially for many years to come in Italy.

In December 2018, Manchester United fans were adamant that Jose Mourinho's sacking meant he was finished at the "top" in club football.

A drab style of play, a similarly joyless demeanour in news conferences and seemingly incessant desire to belittle his own players marred his time in Manchester.

Disagreements with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were hardly private, while his relationship with Marcus Rashford appeared uneasy at times as well.

Tottenham paid no mind to the issues – whether that was down to Daniel Levy being convinced Mourinho wasn't finished yet or if he just wanted an entertaining figurehead for his Amazon documentary, who knows. Suffice to say, it ended prematurely on April 19 when Spurs announced his dismissal.

That was two successive high-profile jobs in club management that have, at the end of the day, yielded little – even if Mourinho insists finishing second with Manchester United was one of his greatest achievements.

It left many pondering what might be next. Given the damage to his reputation and the managerial stability of most of the biggest clubs in Europe, international management with Portugal after the Euros seemed the likeliest destination.

Yet here we are: just a few weeks on from being dismissed, he's got himself a new job lined up for next season when he will replace compatriot Paulo Fonseca at Roma. Mourinho's going back to Italy, the setting of arguably his greatest achievement in football: Inter's 2009-10 treble.

But football has changed a lot in the 11 years since then – on the evidence of his time at Tottenham and Manchester United, Mourinho hasn't.

A look at his data in the Premier League since last winning it in 2015 with Chelsea shows real decline.

A failure to evolve

Let's not forget, during Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea boss he was regarded as the best coach in the world at times. Even initially in his second period at Stamford Bridge he did well, taking them to the 2014-15 Premier League trophy.

But things quickly unravelled in 2015, and it's difficult to claim he's been on anything other than a downward spiral ever since.

He was sacked by Chelsea after winning just four games from 16 at the start of the 2015-16 season, and although he did preside over United's best season – points wise – since Ferguson's retirement, he didn't leave much of a legacy at Old Trafford.

Mourinho was then tasked with ending Spurs' 11-year trophy drought. That has since stretched to 13 years, and he left Tottenham having won just 46.6 per cent of his league games in charge.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

But why?

There are numerous theories about Mourinho's demise, but arguably chief among them is the idea he has failed to evolve with modern football, focusing on negating the threats of opponents rather than using the attacking talents available to him to take the initiative.

This fear was reportedly one reason for Spurs players apparently growing frustrated with Mourinho, and the data backs up the idea Mourinho is less forward thinking than earlier in his career, with his teams averaging 1.6 goals per game since 2014-15 finished, as opposed to 1.8 beforehand.

While not a massive difference, that change is exacerbated by the fact Mourinho no longer appears to be the shrewd pragmatic innovator he was once regarded, with his teams in the past few years rather porous.

Again, since 2015-16 started, Mourinho's teams have been conceding at a rate of 1.1 per game, whereas previously they conceded just 0.6 goals every 90 minutes.

Mourinho's teams were once tireless competitors built on a solid foundation – that no longer appears to be the case.

Spurs letting it slip

Perhaps it was expected Mourinho would at least get until the end of the season with Spurs, but with Champions League qualification looking increasingly unlikely, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Levy acted when he did.

In terms of the reasoning for his sacking, there's probably not much more to it – but if we delve a little further into the numbers, unsettling trends appear.

Granted, the 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, that had essentially been his unique selling point for years, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it's the worst season he's ever had in that regard and he didn't even see it all the way through.

Similarly, the 10 Premier League losses Spurs suffered is a career worst for Mourinho in a single season.

The frequency of defeats led to questions being routinely asked of Spurs' mentality throughout Mourinho's time there, with the 27 points they dropped from winning positions in the Premier League since his initial appointment being behind only Southampton (30) and Brighton and Hove Albion (31) before he was dismissed.

But it makes for even grimmer viewing when looking at this season alone as the 20 points they threw away was the joint-worst in the division at the time of his sacking.

Spurs were particularly concerning when it came to closing games out, losing 11 points to goals conceded after the 80th minute. It's no wonder their collective mental strength had been called into question so often.

While the fact he didn't collect more points per game than Tim Sherwood (1.91) might attract ridicule on social media, the latter's record is actually the best of any Spurs boss to preside over more than 10 Premier League games at the club.

More importantly, Mourinho's 1.64 points per game was a significant drop-off on Pochettino's (1.89), and therein lies a key issue.

Roma have been struggling to meet the expectations of a demanding fanbase for years, a situation not too disimiliar to Spurs.

He couldn't do the business in London – Roma will hope Mourinho's pragmatism can still stake a claim for relevance in Serie A.

In December 2018, Manchester United fans were adamant that Jose Mourinho's sacking meant he was finished at the "top" in club football.

A drab style of play, a similarly joyless demeanour in news conferences and seemingly incessant desire to belittle his own players marred his time in Manchester.

Disagreements with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were hardly private, while his relationship with Marcus Rashford appeared uneasy at times as well.

Tottenham paid no mind to the issues – whether that was down to Daniel Levy being convinced Mourinho wasn't finished yet or if he just wanted an entertaining figurehead for his Amazon documentary, who knows. Suffice to say, it ended prematurely on April 19 when Spurs announced his dismissal.

That was two successive high-profile jobs in club management that have, at the end of the day, yielded little – even if Mourinho insists finishing second with Manchester United was one of his greatest achievements.

It left many pondering what might be next. Given the damage to his reputation and the managerial stability of most of the biggest clubs in Europe, international management with Portugal after the Euros seemed the likeliest destination.

Yet here we are: just a few weeks on from being dismissed, he's got himself a new job lined up for next season when he will replace compatriot Paulo Fonseca at Roma. Mourinho's going back to Italy, the setting of arguably his greatest achievement in football: Inter's 2009-10 treble.

But football has changed a lot in the 11 years since then – on the evidence of his time at Tottenham and Manchester United, Mourinho hasn't.

A look at his data in the Premier League since last winning it in 2015 with Chelsea shows real decline.

A failure to evolve

Let's not forget, during Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea boss he was regarded as the best coach in the world at times. Even initially in his second period at Stamford Bridge he did well, taking them to the 2014-15 Premier League trophy.

But things quickly unravelled in 2015, and it's difficult to claim he's been on anything other than a downward spiral ever since.

He was sacked by Chelsea after winning just four games from 16 at the start of the 2015-16 season, and although he did preside over United's best season – points wise – since Ferguson's retirement, he didn't leave much of a legacy at Old Trafford.

Mourinho was then tasked with ending Spurs' 11-year trophy drought. That has since stretched to 13 years, and he left Tottenham having won just 46.6 per cent of his league games in charge.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

But why?

There are numerous theories about Mourinho's demise, but arguably chief among them is the idea he has failed to evolve with modern football, focusing on negating the threats of opponents rather than using the attacking talents available to him to take the initiative.

This fear was reportedly one reason for Spurs players apparently growing frustrated with Mourinho, and the data backs up the idea Mourinho is less forward thinking than earlier in his career, with his teams averaging 1.6 goals per game since 2014-15 finished, as opposed to 1.8 beforehand.

While not a massive difference, that change is exacerbated by the fact Mourinho no longer appears to be the shrewd pragmatic innovator he was once regarded, with his teams in the past few years rather porous.

Again, since 2015-16 started, Mourinho's teams have been conceding at a rate of 1.1 per game, whereas previously they conceded just 0.6 goals every 90 minutes.

Mourinho's teams were once tireless competitors built on a solid foundation – that no longer appears to be the case.

Spurs letting it slip

Perhaps it was expected Mourinho would at least get until the end of the season with Spurs, but with Champions League qualification looking increasingly unlikely, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Levy acted when he did.

In terms of the reasoning for his sacking, there's probably not much more to it – but if we delve a little further into the numbers, unsettling trends appear.

Granted, the 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, that had essentially been his unique selling point for years, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it's the worst season he's ever had in that regard and he didn't even see it all the way through.

Similarly, the 10 Premier League losses Spurs suffered is a career worst for Mourinho in a single season.

The frequency of defeats led to questions being routinely asked of Spurs' mentality throughout Mourinho's time there, with the 27 points they dropped from winning positions in the Premier League since his initial appointment being behind only Southampton (30) and Brighton and Hove Albion (31) before he was dismissed.

But it makes for even grimmer viewing when looking at this season alone as the 20 points they threw away was the joint-worst in the division at the time of his sacking.

Spurs were particularly concerning when it came to closing games out, losing 11 points to goals conceded after the 80th minute. It's no wonder their collective mental strength had been called into question so often.

While the fact he didn't collect more points per game than Tim Sherwood (1.91) might attract ridicule on social media, the latter's record is actually the best of any Spurs boss to preside over more than 10 Premier League games at the club.

More importantly, Mourinho's 1.64 points per game was a significant drop-off on Pochettino's (1.89), and therein lies a key issue.

Roma have been struggling to meet the expectations of a demanding fanbase for years, a situation not too disimiliar to Spurs.

He couldn't do the business in London – Roma will hope Mourinho's pragmatism can still stake a claim for relevance in Serie A.

Jose Mourinho will be back in management next season after landing a three-year deal at Roma just 15 days after being sacked by Tottenham.

The Portuguese will take the helm at Roma for the 2021-22 campaign after the Serie A club announced the 58-year-old as Paulo Fonseca's replacement. 

It will be the next chapter in a career that has yielded major silverware across Europe, but one that has taken a notable downturn after a trophy-less spell at Spurs.

The cracks had already started to show for Mourinho prior to his Spurs exit on April 19, which came following a series of comments from the former Inter boss that hinted at significant unrest at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Here is a selection of the quotes which capture the Special One's descent into ignominy, a fate Mourinho will be desperate to avoid in the Eternal City as he seeks to recapture his glory days. 

 

SAME COACH, DIFFERENT PLAYERS

After Spurs stayed painfully true to form and surrendered a 2-1 lead to draw 2-2 with lowly Newcastle United, Mourinho promptly laid the blame at the feet of his players.

When it was put to him that his teams are normally good at holding onto leads, he said: "Same coach, different players."

YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO FEED YOUR KIDS

In one of the more bizarre post-match media conferences, Mourinho started ranting about the importance of feeding your kids.

It was after Spurs had lost 3-1 to Manchester United, with Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer criticising Son Heung-min for what he considered a bit of play acting.

The Norwegian said if his child had behaved like that, he would have deprived them of their food. It was, evidently, a joke.

Mourinho addressed this, entirely unprompted, but for him it was no laughing matter.

"It is very, very sad," he said. "I think it's really sad that you don't ask me about it. It's really sad that you don't have the moral honesty to treat me the same way you treat others.

"I just want to say, Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole, because I think a father – I am a father – you have always to feed your kids, it doesn't matter what they do.

"If you have to steal to feed your kids, you steal. I am very, very disappointed, and like we say in Portugal bread is bread and cheese is cheese, I told Ole already what I think about his comments."

IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, OR IS IT?

Modesty appears to be an alien concept to Mourinho, who had no hesitation in comparing himself to NASA scientists.

Addressing the seemingly justified criticism he was receiving in light of Spurs' underwhelming campaign, the Portuguese went on the defensive.

"I don't think anybody is going to discuss rocket science with the guys from NASA, with everybody around the world," he said.

"They think they can discuss football with one of the most important managers in the game. That's the beauty of football.

"I got used to it, I appreciate that, so that's fine for me."

MOURINISTAS LOVE ME

The criticism never seemed to leave Mourinho too disheartened, such is the strength of his conviction that he has an army of loyal followers.

He calls them 'Mourinistas', and they are the source of his strength.

He said: "Honestly, I get my strength from myself but mainly from the people that I love and the people who I know they love me, even if many of them I don't know them, I haven't met them.

"I used to call them the 'Mourinistas', because in Portugal we use 'ista' in the end of the name of the club that we love, to express the support."

BALE SAGA

Gareth Bale's signing on loan from Real Madrid gave Spurs fans hope of a genuine title challenge, but that too proved a false dawn.

There were many hints that all was not well with Bale's second coming at Spurs, with Mourinho left fuming by an Instagram post in which the Wales star had suggested he had been involved in full training, despite the head coach insisting he was not fit.

"There was a contradiction between the post and the reality," said Mourinho.

SORROW SHOWS AFTER DINAMO BLOW

It wasn't all strength and defiance, though, as was evident after the shock Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb.

"To say I feel sad is not enough," he lamented. "What I feel is much more than sadness."

INDIVIDUAL MISTAKES

Going back to January, the willingness to turn on his own players was clear for all to see.

After a 1-1 draw with struggling Fulham, Mourinho saw "individual mistakes", though he did not confess that any were his own.

"There are things that are individual, that are down to individual qualities and individual mistakes," he said. "Basically I cannot say much more than that."

DIER DISAGREEMENT

After Eric Dier sat out Spurs' 2-0 win over West Brom in February, Mourinho said the England international was suffering a crisis of confidence.

However, in an open show of dissent, Dier insisted: "Confidence-wise, I don't feel like I've been in a bad place all season."

Jose Mourinho will join Roma as head coach for the 2021-22 season, the Serie A club have announced.

The news came on the same day the club announced Paulo Fonseca would leave his position as coach at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Mourinho was dismissed by Premier League side Tottenham on April 19 after a disappointing 17 months in charge.

He said last week he would wait for a club with the "right culture" to resume his managerial career.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea boss previously coached in Serie A with Inter between 2008 and 2010.

He guided the Nerazzurri to two Scudettos and a Champions League triumph during his time at San Siro.

"Thank you to the Friedkin family for choosing me to lead this great club and to be part of their vision," Mourinho told the club's official website.

"After meetings with the ownership and Tiago Pinto, I immediately understood the full extent of their ambitions for Roma. It is the same ambition and drive that has always motivated me and together we want to build a winning project over the upcoming years.

"The incredible passion of the Roma fans convinced me to accept the job and I cannot wait to start next season.

"In the meantime, I wish Paulo Fonseca all the best and I hope the media appreciate that I will only speak further in due course. Daje Roma!"

Jose Mourinho will join Roma as head coach for the 2021-22 season, the Serie A club have announced.

Serie A side Roma have confirmed head coach Paulo Fonseca will leave the club at the end of the season. 

Fonseca signed a two-year contract with the Giallorossi in June 2019 following a successful spell with Shakhtar Donetsk. 

He guided them to fifth in Serie A in his first season in charge but they sit seventh this campaign, 14 points adrift of the Champions League qualification places. 

An impressive run to the Europa League semi-finals appears likely to come to an end on Thursday when Manchester United travel to Rome for the reverse fixture following the Premier League side's 6-2 victory in the first leg last week.

"Over these last two years we have experienced a number of highs and lows, but I have always given my all for this club and this city; a city that has always been so welcoming," Fonseca said in a statement on Roma's official website on Tuesday.

"I would like to thank the Roma fans, everyone we have worked with at Trigoria, the players, and all those who have helped us during this journey.

"We still have some very important games in front of us this season that we want to win, and we will continue to give our all in order to do so."

Chairman Dan Friedkin added: "Paulo guided the team through many challenges, including the Covid pandemic and a change of ownership, and did so with selfless integrity and great character.

"We wish him all the best for his future endeavours and know that he will be a great asset wherever he goes."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said it was a "good job done" rather than job done after Manchester United thrashed Roma 6-2 in the Europa League semi-finals.

Bruno Fernandes gave the Red Devils an early lead in a dramatic first leg at Old Trafford on Thursday, but Lorenzo Pellegrini's penalty and a goal from Edin Dzeko put Roma 2-1 up at half-time.

The luckless Giallorossi lost three players to injury in the first half - including goalkeeper Pau Lopez - and they were torn apart by a rampant United after the break.

A brace from the magnificent Edinson Cavani put the Premier League side back in front and Fernandes had a double of his own when he made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood added further goals to put United on the brink of a final against either Villarreal or Arsenal in Gdansk on May 26.

Ruthless United scored six or more goals in a single match in European competition for the first time since netting seven against Roma in April 2007; they are also the first side to net as many in a major European semi-final since Real Madrid in the European Cup in May 1964.

Still, Solskjaer says there is no chance they will be complacent heading into the second leg at Stadio Olimpico next Thursday.

The Red Devils boss told BT Sport: "No I don't feel the job is done but it was a good job done. We did well but we know they have quality.

"They scored two goals from the two chances we gave them. They didn't have loads of chances against Ajax. The second half was very good."

Solskjaer was impressed with the way his side stormed back after surrendering a first-half advantage.

"We took most of our chances today, so we're very pleased. The character showed – we came back, we didn't lose our heads," he added.

"For five, 10 minutes at the end of the first half we didn't look great, but we got it together."

Roma were unable to make any further changes in the second half after losing Jordan Veretout, Lopez and Leonardo Spinazzola in the opening 45 minutes.

Under-pressure coach Paulo Fonseca rued their misfortune but was at a loss to explain such an astonishing second-half capitulation.

He told Sky Sport "It's difficult to explain how the same team that did so well in the first half had that kind of second half. It's hard to play against a side like United without having the substitutions.

"It's positive to reach this stage of the competition anyway, and also to play like we did in the first half. But in the second half we got everything wrong."

Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes both scored twice as Manchester United thrashed Roma 6-2 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.

Fernandes opened the scoring in a thriller at Old Trafford on Thursday, but Roma led 2-1 at half-time despite losing three players due to injury – including goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

Lorenzo Pellegrini equalised with a controversial penalty and Edin Dzeko put the Serie A side in front, but the Red Devils stormed back in stunning fashion in the second half.

The magnificent Cavani struck twice and Fernandes sealed a brace of his own with another questionable spot-kick before Paul Pogba – who gave away that harsh first-half penalty – added a fifth.

Mason Greenwood had the final say to put United firmly on course for the final ahead of the second leg at Stadio Olimpico in seven days' time.

The Giallorossi lost Jordan Veretout to a hamstring injury early on, Gonzalo Villar replacing him in midfield, and they suffered another blow when Fernandes opening the scoring with a superbly worked goal in the ninth minute.

Pogba turned sharply and burst forward before finding Cavani, whose clever first-time pass sent Fernandes through and the Portugal midfielder calmly lifted the ball over goalkeeper Lopez and into the net.

Roma were level six minutes later, with Pogba seemingly harshly penalised for handling when he slid in trying to block a cross and Pellegrini made no mistake from the spot.

Antonio Mirante took over in goal after Lopez injured himself saving a shot from Pogba with less than half an hour gone, but the Eternal City club were in front 33 minutes in.

Former United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan picked out Pellegrini with a brilliant reverse pass and the captain set Dzeko up for a tap-in.

Leonardo Spinazzola became the third Roma player to make an early exit due to injury and Mirante denied Cavani when he was gifted a great opportunity by some poor defending just before the break.

Cavani showed his class to equalise a couple of minutes into the second half, though, finding the top corner with a clinical first-time finish after Fernandes played him in.

The Uruguay striker then showed his predatory instincts to put the Red Devils back in front after 64 minutes, tucking in from close range after Mirante could only palm Aaron Wan-Bissaka's shot into his path.

Fernandes gave United breathing space when he expertly converted from the penalty spot after ex-United defender Chris Smalling was contentiously adjudged to have fouled Cavani as he tried to complete a hat-trick.

The inspirational Fernandes turned provider once again for United's fifth goal, delivering a pinpoint cross for Pogba to head home and Greenwood slid in a sixth following another sublime assist from Cavani four minutes from time.

Old Trafford will not bring Roma many happy memories when they return for their Europa League semi-final first leg against Manchester United on Thursday.

The Giallorossi first made the trip to Manchester in April 2007, having won the home leg of their Champions League last-eight tie.

That had been the sides' first ever meeting and it remains Roma's sole win in six attempts. Three times they have lost at United and the pick of those matches, in 2006-07, saw a remarkable 7-1 humbling.

With the use of Opta data, we look back on that evening and what it meant for those involved.
 

Roma's ruins

This was a major European quarter-final and Roma were set to be far from straightforward opposition for United.

The 2-1 win for the hosts at the Stadio Olimpico meant the Red Devils would have to overturn a first-leg deficit in a continental knockout tie for the first time since 1984 (excluding qualifiers). They certainly did that.

Roma actually had a greater share of possession at Old Trafford (53.7 per cent) and only attempted two shots fewer than United, but Francesco Totti squandered 10 of their 21. He at least teed up Daniele De Rossi for an exquisite consolation.

Although the Giallorossi have since also lost 7-1 to Bayern Munich in 2014 and 6-1 to Barcelona in 2015, they had not been beaten by more than four goals in Europe prior to this match.

For United, it was their biggest European win since 1968 when Waterford United were defeated by the same scoreline. It still fell some way short of their record against foreign opposition, a 10-0 1956 demolition of Anderlecht.

Ronaldo's rise

In a breakout season, this was a breakout performance from Cristiano Ronaldo.

The winger – he was definitely still a winger at that stage – had previously failed to score in his 26 appearances in Europe's premier club competition, although he impressed in Rome in the first leg.

Goals later in the second leg changed the course of Ronaldo's Champions League career, but his early work would be alien to anyone who had only seen the superstar in action for Real Madrid or Juventus in recent seasons, prowling the final third.

As so often at that time, Ronaldo's speed and skill was key in leading United's breaks from deep. He completed eight of nine attempted dribbles in this match and a pass inside from the right found Michael Carrick for the opener.

The United number seven was involved in the third goal for Wayne Rooney, too, driving United forward again, and then put Alex Ferguson's side out of sight.

More clinical than Totti with his own 10 attempts, Ronaldo raced up the right once more to drill in the fourth before half-time, breaking his Champions League duck with the first of a record 134 goals at this level and 67 in knockout matches to date.

He never looked back and the fifth goal was his, too, toeing in Ryan Giggs' low centre to reach 20 for a season for the very first time.

Ronaldo has made that mark in every subsequent campaign and there have since been a further 36 Champions League outings with two or more goals.

Smith's swansong

As Ronaldo took centre stage, there was a final flourish for a previous quarter-final scorer. Alan Smith, a star of Leeds United's 2000-01 run, was handed a rare start.

Smith's time at Old Trafford had not panned out as planned following a controversial move, his mediocre form in front of goal contributing to Ferguson's belief the England striker would be better suited to a battling midfield role.

It was there that he suffered a career-altering leg break against Liverpool in February 2006.

As Ruud van Nistelrooy left for Madrid at the end of that season, Ferguson revealed the recovering Smith was "a player we intend to convert back to centre-forward after a spell in the midfield". But the ex-Leeds favourite found himself firmly behind Rooney, Louis Saha, Henrik Larsson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the pecking order.

By the time Smith was named in the XI – in place of now United manager Solskjaer – against Roma, he had gone 507 days without a goal.

That drought ended with a beautiful right-footed finish, a reminder of what Smith once was, to put United two up, yet this was merely a last hurrah.

Although there was a first Premier League title and an FA Cup final appearance before the end of the campaign, there were no further goals and Smith then left for Newcastle United, where he failed to score once.

When the one-time £7million man finally found the net again, playing for MK Dons in League One in April 2012, 1,838 days had passed since that special Roma strike.

Roma defender Chris Smalling cannot imagine a bigger game than his return to Manchester United for Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg, although he said playing behind closed doors is disappointing.

Smalling, who only returned from a knee injury against Cagliari last week, made more than 300 appearances for United across almost a decade before initially joining Roma on loan in 2019 – a deal that became permanent the following year.

A two-time Premier League winner with United, Smalling will line up against his former team-mates in the opening leg of the final-four showdown at Old Trafford.

"It's a special game, it's a semi-final, added on top it's playing against United," former England international Smalling told reporters.

"Obviously being in Rome for nearly the last two years I know the importance of bringing home a trophy because it's been far too long.

"There are so many ingredients that I don't think there'll be a bigger game to be a part of. I'm just thankful that I'm now fit and I'm able to contribute because the whole squad needs every player."

Smalling's reunion at Old Trafford will be played without fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"I'd admit that's one disappointment not to have a full house and likewise to even have my friends and family watching two clubs that have been a big part of my career," Smalling said.

"That's one unfortunate thing but it doesn't take away the emotion side because it's very rare when you go onto a pitch and you know every player on the pitch.

"In such a big game as well, I think it's got all the ingredients to put on one of your best performances."

Smalling's United exit came during the early stages of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tenure as he moved to the Italian capital on loan two years ago.

The 31-year-old Smalling said he had nothing against the Norwegian manager about his departure.

"When [Solskjaer] first came in I was injured but when I got fit he played me and we had a good relationship," Smalling added.

"We had very honest conversations in the summer but now we'll meet on the pitch and I'm really looking forward to it."

Smalling missed six weeks with the knee injury that he only returned from against Cagliari on Sunday.

"Personally I'm feeling good," he said. "It's no secret that I have missed a lot of games this season which is very unusual for me.

"But coming into this game I'm feeling fit. I'm feeling ready to contribute."

Roma will be looking for their first European victory away to English opponents since February 2001 (1-0 against Liverpool in the UEFA Cup), having failed to win any of their last 12 such games against seven different English sides (D4 L8).

Meanwhile, Roma have lost all three of their previous away games against United, conceding nine goals and scoring just once in return. This will be their first such trip since April 2008, when they lost 1-0 in a Champions League quarter-final.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it would be "a dream come true" to lift silverware as Manchester United manager, with his side preparing for a Europa League semi-final against Roma.

While Solskjaer has improved United's Premier League standing since taking charge in December 2018, he is yet to win a trophy and has been beaten in all four of the semi-finals he has reached.

That included the semi-final in the Europa League last season against eventual winners Sevilla.

United are at home for the first leg against Roma, a team they have played six times before – all in the Champions League – winning four.

One of those victories was the famous 7-1 win in the second leg of a 2007 Champions League quarter-final tie that Solskjaer played in, the spirit from which he hopes to rekindle at Old Trafford on Thursday.

"It will be a dream come true the day I can lift a trophy for this club as a manager," said Solskjaer. 

"That is what we are building for. It is ifs and buts, but our ambition is to finish this season with a trophy and to celebrate. I know what that can mean for the group."

Asked if he had conducted a detailed analysis on the previous semi-final defeats, Solskjaer added: "We have looked at them and the reasons why.

"But every semi-final is a tough one against tough teams.

"Some defeats you dwell on a little bit more, but it is about putting things right and arriving with an almost fully fit squad.

"Now we are going to go all out, we play Liverpool in between but that will take care of itself.

"I would like to think [we have more belief now]. It was a strange end to last season with the mini tournament [in Germany]; the atmosphere and feeling.

"We have to go that one step further and win. We have had a great night in this tournament before [winning it in 2017]. Our focus is on ending the season with a celebration.

"As soon as we went out of the Champions League our focus was getting to a final. We feel we have been in a proper competition, we have enjoyed it.

"When you come to the business end of the season, first of all being there for the important games, having confidence and belief, but of course to have that luck and quality which is needed.

"We have done remarkably well to get to five semis. Now we want to go all the way."

United have only lost one of their last 12 games against Italian opponents in European competition (W8 D3).

The only defeat in this run came at home to Juventus in the Champions League group stage in 2018-19.

Roma, who are seventh in Serie A, have failed to win any of their last 12 away games in Europe against English clubs, a run that has factored in matches against seven different sides (D4 L8).

On the 2007 tie with Roma, Solskjaer added: "I remember both games, I started the first one. We dug out a very good result after 2-1 defeat [in the first leg].

"That night was magical. Alan Smith was excellent, we showed what United can do. We want a performance like this again!"

United have no new injuries after the 0-0 Premier League draw at Leeds, with Eric Bailly and Marcus Rashford available while Anthony Martial and Phil Jones are still out.

Does a Premier League switch beckon for Raphael Varane?

Varane has starred for Real Madrid, winning LaLiga and Champions League titles.

But Varane could be sacrificed in the Spanish capital, with Chelsea reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS FOR VARANE

Chelsea are ahead of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Varane has been linked with a move away from Madrid, who are looking to raise funds as they target PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

United have reportedly emerged as strong suitors but Chelsea are believed to be at the front of the queue to land the France international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal, Sport1 and other outlets report Bayern Munich have opened talks with RB Leipzig to hire head coach Julian Nagelsmann. With Hansi Flick set to depart at season's end, Nagelsmann is wanted in Munich.

Jose Mourinho is ready to return to Inter should Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte exit, claims Calciomercato. Conte is poised to lead Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10, when Mourinho oversaw a treble, but the former Italy coach's future is far from certain. Mourinho is available after he was sacked by Tottenham.

- According to Gol Digital, Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

Roma are targeting Maurizio Sarri as their next head coach, says Corriere dello Sport. Paulo Fonseca is currently at the helm but he is under pressure in the Italian capital. Roma have reportedly already met with ex-Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli coach Sarri to discuss finer details.

Milan have given star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma one month to decide on a contract extension, reports Tuttosport. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign. The likes of United, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG and Madrid have been linked. Milan are reportedly eyeing Lille's Mike Maignan as a possible replacement.

- Bild claims Arsenal are lining up a move for Dortmund's Julian Brandt as a replacement for loanee Martin Odegaard, who is attracting interest from elsewhere. Brandt could be one of many Dortmund players to leave in the off-season as clubs circle Haaland, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, United, Chelsea, PSG and Bayern.

Is Ibrahima Konate bound for Anfield?

The 21-year-old defender has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

But, the Merseyside club appear set to win the race for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – KONATE HEADING TO ANFIELD

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, according to the Guardian.

Konate had also been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are eyeing a new centre-back at Old Trafford.

But Liverpool have reportedly agreed a five-year contract with Konate, who has a €35million (£30.5m) release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona want to offer a new and improved contract to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, which would keep him at Camp Nou until 2026. The 18-year-old, previously linked to United, until at least 2022, with the option to extend it by a further two years.

- What does the future hold for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma? The 22-year-old Italy star's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at San Siro amid links with United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid. While Milan remain hopeful of keeping Donnarumma, Calciomercato says they have begun conversations with Lille's Mike Maignan.

Milan, Inter and Roma are eyeing Torino captain and star forward Andrea Belotti, claims Calciomercato.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester City are set to sign Metinho in the same deal with Fluminense team-mate Kayky.

Madrid remain optimistic about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe from PSG, according to Le Parisien. Mbappe has been tipped to join Los Blancos, who have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Former Manchester United star Chris Smalling has spoken of the "harm and distress" his family felt after an armed burglary at their home in Rome.

Now playing for Roma, who will face United in the Europa League semi-finals, the 31-cap England international had his home raided in the early hours of Friday.

According to reports in Italy, Smalling handed over three Rolex watches, jewellery and money to the three men who entered the property in the Appia Antica district of Italy's capital.

Police were called after the terrifying incident, and 31-year-old Smalling wrote on Twitter on Saturday: "I'd like to thank everyone for your well wishes and support! My family although very shaken up are luckily unharmed!

"Hoping these people can find a more meaningful way to live their lives without causing such harm and distress to others."

Former United team-mate Marcus Rashford sent a message of support to Smalling on Friday, saying he was "so sorry" to hear of the break-in.

Rashford added: "Thinking about you @ChrisSmalling and your lovely family. Can’t imagine how you're feeling but I hope you're ok."

Smalling has been injured recently and did not play on Thursday when Roma edged past Ajax to reach the Europa League last four.

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