Manchester United overrun by Sevilla but David de Geas saves ensure parity

Sevilla dominated Manchester United in the first leg in Andaluca but David de Geas saves notably from Steven NZonzi and Luis Muriel ensured the game ended goalless

And so to Old Trafford. Sevilla had not been able to defeat Manchester United at the Snchez Pizjun but their supporters recognised they had been close and there is still hope they can reach the quarter-final of this competition for the first time in their history.

United, too, may consider this a decent result. Often overrun, able to muster only one shot on target, two superb saves from David de Gea kept them in a game with no goals. A game where to start with Paul Pogba had been absent, too and that is likely to occupy the next few days almost as much as this performance will.

On a night of few notable moments for United, the first arrived soon after they did. The morning before, Jos Mourinho had invited the media to watch those parts of training which he called competitive; in doing so he offered them an objective view of Pogbas fitness, later suggesting that when a player takes part as the Frenchman had, it is because theyre normally ready and without any problems. If it seemed staged then, that sensation deepened when the team was confirmed the following night and Pogba was not in it. Mourinho said he was not 100% fit, but the game was only 17 minutes in when Ander Herrera pulled up and had to depart; Pogba came on to replace him, but there was no revolution.

Sevilla had started on the front foot and the change did not significantly alter that, although Alexis Snchezs lovely ball did find Romelu Lukaku, who volleyed over, and Scott McTominay struck Sergio Ricos palms from 20 yards. As it turned out, that was their only shot on goal.

At one point, Pogba rolled an opponent and began a move that left Juan Mata dashing up the left, but it was ver Banega who was having the most notable impact in the middle of midfield. The Argentinians favoured ball was speared leftwards for Joaqun Correa. From one of those, Correa drew the first save from De Gea. It would not be the last. On the other side, Sevillas converted full-back Jess Navas bombed up and down, defensively sound, offensively dangerous.

Sevilla were growing. A swift counter that infuriated Mourinho broke down when Sergio Escudero could not find Pablo Sarabia but the pressure built, and Uniteds discomfort was revealed when Victor Lindelof almost played his goalkeeper into trouble. By half-time, their shot count had reached a dozen and it kept climbing. The best of those had come just before the interval, but De Gea made two superb saves. The first came from Steven NZonzis header, which the Spain goalkeeper tipped over the bar.

If that was good what followed, from Luis Muriel, was better. All around the Pizjun they could barely believe it. Muriel, head on the turf, couldnt either; he got to his feet and congratulated the man who had denied him. Lindelof approached his goalkeeper for a grateful word as they walked off.

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A fantastic reaction save from Manchester Uniteds goalkeeper David de Gea denies Sevillas Luis Muriel. Photograph: Jon Nazca/Reuters

When they walked back on, the pattern continued. With Franco Vzquezs involvement increasing, his touch subtle and assured, and with Sarabia supporting him to the right side, Sevilla pressed and yet they would not get another chance as good. Vzquez curled over, Muriels first effort deflected wide and his second skidded past the near post; a clipped free-kick found Clment Lenglet barely six yards out, but he could not get sufficient power on his header; and then Correa dribbled into the area and sliced high and wide.

De Gea had few problems from Banegas free-kick. He might have had rather more had Muriel, sliding in, been able to reach Sarabias ball in and the game was happening at his end of this arena. United were being overrun, unable to create opportunities or produce a prolonged period of passes. The space ahead of them was enticing, and both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were introduced to try to exploit that. But while there was pace and space, United needed to find a way to put the ball into it.

Only Sevilla had attempts on goal in the second half. Few, though, were clear chances. Sarabia could only guide his header over the bar and when Vzquez lifted a lovely ball into his path, leaving him one on one, he had strayed offside. As the clock ticked down, so the margins became finer, the risks greater, and suddenly there was a roar. United had the ball in the net. Pogba found Lukaku, who used his hand before scoring. It was ruled out, but there was a warning.

With four minutes to go Sandro, on as a sub, saw his shot blocked inside the area and then Navas went tumbling: the referee waved play on. Again United broke but they were blunt. There were nerves now, but little else.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/feb/21/sevilla-manchester-united-champions-league-last-16-first-leg-match-report