The noise around Old Trafford told its own tale. The stunned silence, the frustration at the end. This was a long, long way from what was expected; a long, longer way from what was good enough.
It is said 0-0 in the first leg is a dangerous score, but Manchester United made it doubly so with an uninspired, cautious display that ended in humiliation on their home turf. Sevilla scored twice in a second-half that exposed the limitations of this team, certainly the limitations went sent out to play in such an unimaginative way.
Marcus Rashford, alone, and even them only sporadically, showed the determination to run at the Spaniards, to challenge them in wide positions. The rest was mediocre in the extreme. Wayward, long balls. Ponderous, slow play. Attack, attack, attack, shouted the fans.
Wissam Ben Yedder strikes from the edge of the Manchester United box to put Sevilla into the lead on Tuesday evening
Ben Yedder dashes off to celebrate putting the Spanish side into the lead during the Champions League last-16
A dejected Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku prepare to take kick off after United fell behind at Old Trafford
Ben Yedder was able to double his side’s advantage with a header that crept over the line after David De Gea got a hand to it
PLAYER RATINGS, MATCH FACTS AND MATCH ZONE
Manchester United (4-1-4-1): De Gea 6; Valencia 6 (Mata 77), Bailly 6, Smalling 6, Young 6; Matic 6; Rashford 6, Fellaini 6 (Pogba 60, 5), Lingard 6 (Martial 77), Sanchez 5; Lukaku 6.5
Subs not used: Romero, Lindelof, Darmian, McTominay
Goal: Lukaku 84
Manager: Jose Mourinho 5
Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Rico 6; Mercado 6.5, Kjaer 7.5, Lenglet 7, Escudero 7; Nzonzi 8, Banega 7; Sarabia 7, Vazquez 6.5 (Pizarro 87), Correa 8 (Geis 89); Muriel 6 (Ben Yedder 72, 8.5)
Subs not used: Soria, Pizarro, Pareja, Nolito, Arana
Goals: Ben Yedder 74, 78
Bookings: Banega, Sarabia, Correa, Ben Yedder
Manager: Vincenzo Montella 8
Referee: Danny Makkelie 5
Sevilla did, finally locating their range after a serious of wild attempts, to send United stumbling out of the competition, disoriented, humbled. At least they can concentrate on coming second now.
It is fitting that an attacking substitution changed the game. Wissam Ben Yedder has been Sevilla’s top scorer in Europe this season but hasn’t started either tie against United. Introduced with 18 minutes remaining here, he changed the game. His first goal came after two minutes of involvement, in which time his movement was already having an impact. It was a superbly taken goal. Pablo Sarabia picked him out through the middle and Ben Yedder held off the defensive attention to bury the ball at David De Gea’s left post. Statistics show how difficult that is this season.
The next, the killer, was a little less perfect but not less effective, a header at the back post after losing Ashley Young that De Gea scrambled to clear but was judged correctly to have crossed the line. Romelu Lukaku pulled one back from a Juan Mata cross – and how United could have done with his invention from the start – but with only seven minutes remaining it was too late. Trying to do a job on Sevilla, United had a job done on them instead. If there is blueprint from this match, it should be tucked away, never to be unfolded. This is no way for Manchester United to play in Europe; it is a way for them to lose.
It says something of the upheaval and trials of Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson stood down that less than half of Tuesday night’s starting line-up had ever played a Champions League knock-out game at Old Trafford – the defence-minded players, mostly. It was 2014 when United last ventured into the business end of this tournament and anyone who expected a safe, uneventful passage to the quarter-finals would have been very disappointed come half-time.
Manchester United had the best chance of the opening 45 minutes, but it was singular and they never looked less than vulnerable. Had Sevilla been able to hit a bovine backside with the proverbial stringed instrument they could have been in real trouble. Nil-nil in the first leg is not the good result once imagined. Indeed, in the modern Champions League, 70 per cent of the teams that have got a goalless draw away have gone out in the second leg at home.
United were bucking that trend with five progressions in eight after a 0-0 first leg away, but this did not make for comfortable viewing, even for Mourinho. He stood for long periods on the edge of the technical area, hands deep in pockets, expression sober. He had picked a midfield to smother as well as deliver, Marouane Fellaini preferred to Paul Pogba – or even Scott McTominay – beside Nemanja Matic, to counter Sevilla’s aerial threat from set pieces, and offer some of United’s own.
Indeed, Fellaini played much as he did under Louis Van Gaal, alternating between defensive midfield duties and support striker, flicking the ball on to that other giant, Romelu Lukaku. It wasn’t greatly effective. Indeed, the one time United did threaten to score was in a sweet passing move between Fellaini and Alexis Sanchez that breached a very competent Sevilla defence.
Supporters mill outside of a well lit Old Trafford ahead of kick-off in the last-16 second leg on Tuesday evening
The two teams shake hands and greet one another in the build-up to the encounter at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening
Marcus Rashford forced a good save from Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico with a free-kick in the opening exchanges
United manager Jose Mourinho watches on from the touchline during Tuesday evening’s contest at Old Trafford
Sevilla’s Argentinian Joaquin Correa headed the ball over the United bar from a corner kick in the opening 20 minutes
That came in the 38th minute, Fellaini feeding Sanchez and getting the ball on the return before forcing an excellent save from Sergio Rico, cutting inside from the left. That aside, it was meagre stuff from United. They started brightly when Jesse Lingard put in Lukaku who shot over with a minute on the clock, but then the lion’s share of possession, as well as several good shooting chances, were conceded to Sevilla – who could have made a devastating impact with greater accuracy.
In the tenth minute, the dead ball threat that clearly concerned Mourinho was apparent, a left-side corner from Ever Banega met by wideman Joaquin Correa, his header travelling over the bar. Sloppiness could have cost Uniterd dearly on several occasions and in the 14th minute a poor pass from Eric Bailly was struck directly to Correa, who gave it to Luis Muriel in a good position. He snatched at a very loose shot, however, and sent it over the bar.
Much the same after 17 minutes when Pablo Sarabia, Muriel and Franco Vazquez combined, before Vazquez sent another effort into the night air. Then, 11 minutes later, Fellaini was the culprit, conceding possession in his own half and allowing Sevilla to counter attack through Sarabia, and finally Muriel. Wide again.
David De Gea, in United’s goal, has saved a staggering 20 of the 21 shot that have come his way in the Champions League this season – a statistic made all the more amazing if one considers that the ‘expected goals’ register says he should have conceded from five of them – but he was hardly needed here.
The second-half started in much the same fashion, Correa dangerous in the penalty area, Bailly brilliant in the tackle to deny him, the ball falling to Vazquez who sent it wildly into the stand. If Sevilla ever found their range. At least United were getting close, Lingard forcing the second save of the night from Rico, before Marcus Rashford put a ball across the face of goal, the vital touch elusive.
United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku is tackled by Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet during a back and forth first-half
Luis Muriel worked some space in the United box but was only able to drag his left-footed shot wide of David De Gea’s post
Lukaku shows his frustration after he was unable to control a ball into his path during a difficult first-half on Tuesday
Sevilla manager Vicenzo Montella directs his players as they look to build on a solid opening to the game at Old Trafford
Marouane Fellaini has his shot blocked by a Sevilla defender as United struggled to control the game at home on Tuesday
Alexis Sanchez takes on Sevilla’s Gabriel Mercado as he looks to push United towards an opening goal at Old Trafford
Rico gets down well to his right to make contact with the ball and divert it away from goal after a threatening attack
Mercado closes down Rashford as he attempts to make a dash down the left flank during the Champions League game
Fellaini was taken off in the 60th minute of Tuesday night’s game in favour of £89million French midfielder Paul Pogba
Lukaku attempts to volley the ball towards goal using his left foot but is met by some staunch defending from Sevilla
Rashford is fouled by Sevilla player Pablo Sarabia as he dashes towards the penalty area during the second-half
De Gea shows his dejection after United went behind at Old Trafford courtesy of a goal from Sevilla substitute Ben Yedder