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.