Man United looks to end semifinal heartache against Roma

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Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leave the pitch after the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester United at Elland Road in Leeds, England, Sunday April 25, 2021. The match ended 0-0. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)

Manchester United’s players have been nothing if not consistent in the semifinals of major tournaments over the last year and a half.

They have played in four, and they have lost in four.

No. 5 is coming up on Thursday when Roma visits Old Trafford for the first leg of the Europa League semifinals and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reason to believe this time will be different.

“The players have had another year, they’re more experienced and they’ve come through some difficult times,” the United manager said. “And with the motivation of having those disappointments, I’m confident we'll get a good performance."

The first loss came in the League Cup semifinals in January 2020, when United was eliminated by crosstown rival Manchester City over two legs. Then there were defeats against Chelsea and Sevilla in the semifinals of the FA Cup and Europa League, respectively, after soccer returned following the suspension caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

And it was a familiar story in January, when United was beaten 2-0 by City in a League Cup semifinal rematch.

The opponents have been tough, no doubt, but that hasn’t stopped United from collecting a reputation of choking on the big occasion under Solskjaer, who is still awaiting his first trophy since taking over as manager as the replacement for Jose Mourinho in December 2018.

Solskjaer has analyzed each of the losses in the semifinals and hasn’t spotted an obvious reason why United keeps falling short, except for the quality of the opposition.