Football is so much more entertaining when Eric Bailly is playing.

The Ivorian made his first start for Manchester United since March as the team lined up against Roma for the semi-final second leg.

He set the tone for a bizarre opening 45 minutes when he managed to accidentally headbutt former United teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

AS Roma v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Semi Final: Leg Two
(Photo by Tullio Puglia – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Bailly was at the heart of everything defensively, making smart tackles and blocks, while also giving the ball away.

There was a strange moment where he galloped forward into the final third, unchallenged, thought about shooting, before giving the ball away with a true defender’s pass. Roma went up the other end and nearly scored.

Bailly did have a quickfire shot after another set piece, which was blocked.

One man who did not enjoy playing against him was Roma striker Edin Dzeko.

AS Roma v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Semi Final: Leg Two
(Photo by Tullio Puglia – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Bailly stood up to Dzeko physically and outmatched him, and the Bosnian only scored in the second half when he managed to drift between Bailly and Harry Maguire.

 

And that sums up the conundrum for United. Bailly is a terrific player, but he does not have the understanding with Maguire which teammate Victor Lindelof does.

Bailly was entertaining to watch, but it may not have been so much so if this was the first leg.

United needed calmness and assurance in the second half, and the team wobbled. Bailly and Maguire looked like a partnership which had not played together for a few weeks.

FBL-EUR-C3-ROMA-MAN UTD
(Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Bailly will be more involved over the next few weeks with rotation essential to deal with the upcoming fixture list.

This was a game to get of his system, and he will be better off for getting the minutes in. It wasn’t the convincing performance he would have wanted, however, if he was aiming to persuade Solskjaer to select him in the final later this month.

Reaction

Here is a look at how United fans reacted to Bailly’s performance…

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