Manchester United’s Champions League campaign cut short in dramatic fashion by Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder

Manchester United 1 (1) Sevilla 2 (2): Wissam Ben Yedder scored two goals across the space of four minutes to consign Jose Mourinho's to an unexpected defeat

Mark Critchley
Old Trafford
Wednesday 14 March 2018 08:49 GMT
Jose Mourinho says Manchester United exit 'not the end of the world'

Jose Mourinho has rarely been thought of as a manager who takes risks, but his strategy in Seville three weeks ago made this second leg a wager he had to win. The gamble did not pay off.

Manchester United’s hopes of progression through the Champions League knock-out stages were extinguished and Mourinho’s conservative gameplan thoroughly exposed last night by a ruthless Sevilla side, who saw the chance that United’s first-leg approach presented and took it with both hands.

There was always a sense that just one away goal would be enough for United’s best-laid plans to go awry.

Sevilla ended the night with two, scored in the space of four minutes by substitute Wissam Ben Yedder, and when they came them, the celebrations of the travelling supporters drowned out the Stretford End’s plaintive cries of "attack, attack, attack".

In his programme notes, Mourinho conceded the goalless draw three weeks ago was neither a good nor bad result, yet perhaps even he had not thought it would prove to look this poor after 120 minutes of football in which his side produced just four shots on target.

The United manager, however, has only himself to blame. He asked his players to be conservative and reactive in their play at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, then banked on something other than the drab, lifeless display they put in here.

Some may well blame Mourinho’s team selection, which once again raised eyebrows as Paul Pogba began the second leg as he had started the first - sitting on the substitutes’ bench.

The midfielder was injury-free after missing the victory over Liverpool with a minor knock, but he was not deemed fit enough to play ahead of Marouane Fellaini, a player without a start to his name since November.

David De Gea was unable to stop Ben Yedder’s second, despite getting a hand to the header
David De Gea was unable to stop Ben Yedder’s second, despite getting a hand to the header (Getty)

The best you could say about the Fellani’s first-half display was that he was busy. Mourinho appeared to give the Belgian license to roam forward from midfield in the first half, but his attempts to harry the visiting defence only caused problems for his own backline.

Sevilla easily exploited the gap left alongside Nemanja Matic in midfield and could have led through early half-chances for Joaquin Correa and Franco Vazquez. Luis Muriel went closest, firing wide from tight angle after one of several threatening counter-attacks.

Mourinho placed himself on the edge of his technical area and did not return to the dugout until he was happy those Sevilla counters became less frequent and threatening.

United’s own attacking play remained ponderous, though. Sergio Rico in Sevilla’s goal was only tested once before the break. Fellaini’s effort, after a neat one-two with Lukaku, was easily saved.

Romelu Lukaku clinched a late consolation goal for the hosts – but it wasn’t enough
Romelu Lukaku clinched a late consolation goal for the hosts – but it wasn’t enough (Getty)

Sevilla, in fairness, had created few clear openings themselves but one golden opportunity fell their way shortly after play restarted.

Correa quite simply should have scored when Pablo Sarabia’s pass found him unopposed in the penalty area, but his miscontrol gave Eric Bailly the vital seconds required to steal the ball away with a perfectly-executed sliding challenge.

This reprieve seemed to stir United, who responded through a Lingard effort that Rico had to push wide, but that ruthless precision seen in Saturday’s victory against Liverpool was still missing.

Pogba was introduced on the hour mark, Fellaini the one sacrificed, but still there was no improvement and soon came the sucker punch. 87 seconds after being introduced, Ben Yedder was slipped through by Correa. He stood up Bailly, picked his spot and found a corner of the net De Gea could not reach.

Alexis Sanchez looks on after the final whistle
Alexis Sanchez looks on after the final whistle (Getty)

Old Trafford was silenced and it quickly became sparse four minutes later when Ben Yedder bagged his brace.

This goal was far scrappier, the ball only dropping over the goalline after De Gea had palmed the substitute’s effort off the underside of the crossbar. United’s keeper desperately pushed it away but did so in vain. Referee Danny Makkelie had spotted in cross the line and duly pointed to the centre circle.

Just as the hope seemed to drain out of the hosts, Romelu Lukaku made his first significant contribution of the night. Sevilla went to sleep on a late corner, allowing the Belgian to dart ahead of his marker and acrobatically volleyed home.

It would, however, be a mere consolation, and the only clear chance of the closing stages was wasted by Ben Yedder, who shot straight at De Gea’s legs when he seemed certain to seal his hat-trick.

Vincenzo Montella, the visiting manager, did not seem to care much when the final whistle eventually sounded. His team had done what any playing away from home in the latter rounds of this competition increasingly has to do: keep it tight, do not over-commit but most importantly, play to win.​

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