Resolute United keep Sevilla at bay
Sevilla dominated proceedings in their round of 16 first leg at home to Manchester United but could find no way past an inspired David de Gea.
José Mourinho sprung a surprise by including Scott McTominay in his starting XI instead of Paul Pogba, though the French midfielder was quickly introduced when Ander Herrera was forced off in the 17th minute. Though often isolated up front, Romelu Lukaku volleyed over United’s best chance of the first half.
The visitors remained resolute at the back as Sevilla seized control and, when they were carved open, De Gea came to their rescue. Two saves at the end of the first period from Steven N’Zonzi and Luis Muriel headers were the highlights, and ensured the Red Devils return to Old Trafford on an even keel.
Key player: David de Gea (Manchester United)
We live in a golden age for keepers – sufficiently so to speculate that we may see one of the current crop finally win the first Ballon d’Or for the first time since Lev Yashin. Some will advance the case for Jan Oblak, Manuel Neuer, Thibaut Courtois, Ederson, Marc André ter-Stegen. Take your pick. But for those who argue that De Gea is peerless, this match was further strong evidence. Of his three saves they went upwards in difficulty until the reaction stop, in mid air, from Luis Muriel’s close-range header was utterly glorious. A thing of beauty. Enhorabuena David!
Reporter talking points
Graham Hunter, Sevilla: It was fascinating to hear Jesús Navas talk about the Vincenzo Montella impact before the match. Sevilla’s most experienced player, a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of the club, revealed that the Italian has the lines of the team playing closer together, that ever player concentrates more and that it’s a more intense experience than earlier in the season. They put in just that kind of shift here against the UEFA Europa League holders. Consistently working for each other, confident, diligent in covering for one another. But up against, perhaps, the No1 keeper in the world.
Simon Hart, Man. United: United are the only English side to have failed to score a first-leg goal in this round of 16 but that will not trouble Mourinho as they held firm to earn a draw and give themselves a strong platform for the second leg. De Gea’s superb first-half save from Muriel was the defining moment but if the goalkeeper’s heroics are now a given, another big positive was the maturity of youngster McTominay in central midfield.
- The goalless draw was Manchester United’s first in Europe in 28 games
- Sevilla were last held 0-0 at home in Europe 63 matches ago
- Sevilla had scored in 24 European home games in a row before tonight
- United have only 13 goals in their last 20 European games with Spanish sides
- The Red Devils have kept a clean sheet on seven of their last eight trips to Spain