Lacklustre United crash out of Champions League

Pin United are out of the Champions League. AFP
United are out of the Champions League. AFP

Lacklustre United crash out of Champions League

Patrick Power by Patrick Power @rfutbol - 0 +11k

Manchester United were second best in every possible way as Sevilla did a number on Jose Mourinho and a very ponderous United.

After a goalless draw in the first leg in Spain, there was no foregone conclusion ahead of kick-off at Old Trafford. A defensive shut-out from Jose Mourinho's side at the Sanchez Pizjuan allowed the tie to remain finely poised, but it was not as fruitful as it had seemed. Yet another dominant display from the Spaniards as well as a woeful performance from United made up for one of the worst nights in their long European history.

A Sevilla side struggling to score goals travelled to the Theatre of Dreams hoping to do exactly that. Holding onto the ball while the hosts, arguably the most in-form United side of the season after brushing aside Liverpool at the weekend, waited to pounce on the break.

Steven N'Zonzi and Ever Banega controlled the tempo of the fixture as Sevilla surely began to see the ball in all the dangerous areas, while the Red Devils failed to hold onto the ball in the middle of the park and relied solely on the sporadical runs down the flanks from Alexis Sanchez or Marcus Rashford.


Two very particular problems came face to face at Old Trafford. Manchester United looked sluggish and in need of ideas as they failed to create football without Pogba. On the other hand, Sevilla, a team overstocked with creative players, impressed in midfield, but didn't pick the right pass in the final third.

In the opening exchanges, Man United came out firmly on top, but Vincenzo Montella's men, for all their lack of form, were a constant threat on the break. Lukaku and Rashford fired early warnings, but United looked a tad sloppy passing out from the back and Sevilla were awarded their first chance, Correa attacking a Banega corner at the near post and heading inches over De Gea's bar.

Banega and N'Zonzi pulled the strings from midfield as Sevilla piled pressure on the hosts, who were forced to look long in order to play their way out. A string of half-chances for the visitors had the Old Trafford crowd on edge before United took the game to Sevilla's half in the final minutes of the first half.

The visitors fell asleep and United were awarded their first real chance of the game. Fellaini played a neat one-two with Sanchez on the edge of the box, before firing at an angle with his left foot. Sergio Rico parried it away for a corner.

- Action-packed second half -

A disappointing first 45 minutes were followed by a more exciting second period, no-doubt Mourinho giving his men a stern talking at the break. The game opened up with Bailly sliding in superbly to deny Correa from close range and then Lingard forcing a second crucial save from Rico.

Pogba brought the Old Trafford faithful to their feet as he replaced Fellaini but the substitution that proved crucial came from the opposite dugout, Montella bringing on Ben Yedder for the out-of-form Muriel. Sarabia looked up in midfield and found the substitute, who made some space for himself in the box with Bailly not close enough, and he hit a superb effort into the bottom right corner past De Gea.

It had been coming for United, who lacked fluency, pace and fighting spirit against a Sevilla side who delivered a second blow soon after. Ben Yedder was at the back post to meet a Correa cross from the left flank and send a rather weak header to goal, but as De Gea looked to tip it over, he touched it onto the bar and it just crossed the line.

A late flurry of chances followed as the hosts looked for a late turnaround, but it was too little too late. A roar went around Old Trafford as Lukaku slammed Rashford's corner past Rico from close range, but it was not enough to avoid a painful defeat that will no doubt be followed by some soul-searching and drastic decisions. A wretched performance and a calamity for United that brings their Champions League hopes to an end.


Patrick Power

Patrick Power

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