Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Match report: United 1-2 Sevilla (Agg: 1-2)

United were knocked out of the Champions League at the last 16 stage by Spanish side Sevilla after a strangely subdued showing at an equally bemused Old Trafford. After the hard fought 0-0 draw in the first leg three weeks ago, the away goals rule was tilted in favour of Vincenzo Montella's side, and a quickfire brace from second half substitute Wissam Ben Yedder put the tie out of reach. Romelu Lukaku pulled a goal back on 84 minutes but it proved too little, too late.

This was our first knockout tie in Europe's elite competition since the nerve shredding quarter final with Bayern in 2014 under David Moyes, but unlike then, we came in to this as favourites against a useful but out of form Sevilla side, who sat fifth in La Liga with a negative goal difference, with a place in the last eight at stake. 

Coming into the tie after Saturday's magnificent win over Liverpool, most expected United to set about their task with vim and vigour, in the knowledge that only a win would do. Lukaku - the only United player who could emerge with any credit - almost put his side ahead inside five minutes. The busy Belgian collected the ball, linked up with Jesse Lingard, played a one-two and burst into the box, but he could only lift the ball over the bar.

Sevilla quickly recovered from that early let-off and soon started to pose a threat. Joaquin Correa headed wide and Franco Vazquez shot wide before Montella's men served further warning to United when Luis Muriel went close with an angled effort on the half hour mark.
Sergio Rico saved well from the recalled Marouane Fellaini but the visitors came on strong again with United indebted to an immense challenge from Eric Bailly moments later as Correa shaped to shoot. The Reds response saw Lingard's drive pushed away by Rico shortly before the interval.

A sloppy and sluggish United struggled to find the fluency or fervour on show against Liverpool and, after Paul Pogba was introduced for an almost anonymous Fellaini, Sevilla landed their first sucker punch in the 73rd minute. The Reds lost possession on halfway and substitute Ben Yedder - on for barely a minute - capitalised on the loose ball when he slotted beyond the helpless David de Gea and leave United in desperate trouble. With United still reeling for the shock, Sevilla struck again five minutes later, through Ben Yedder once more. Pablo Sarabia picked out the Frenchman with a deep cross to the far post, and his close-range header spun over the line and in despite the best effort of De Gea.

The tie was over, but United belatedly hit back and reduced the deficit through Lukaku, who blasted in after a goalmouth scramble. But the task set by Ben Yedder - and United's timidity - proved too much.

A miserable night for everyone at the club and one that will want to be forgotten in a hurry.

Overall team performance: 0/10. Abysmal.
United Faithful Man of the Match: Romelu Lukaku. The best of a (very) bad bunch

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