Match Report | Highlights | Post-Match Reaction
Manchester United 2 Seville 2
Sabitzer 14′, 21′ – Malacia 84′ OG, Maguire ’90+2 OG
Manchester United threw away a two-goal lead with two late own-goals. Worse, Varane and Martinez left the field injured, with the Argentinian stretched off with what looks likely to be a serious, long-term injury. Though not yet clear, speculation was rife that it’s an Achilles tear. The prognosis for return ranges from three months for a partial tear to a year for a fully torn tendon. Even then, recovery is far from certain. Ten Hag seemed to rule out that injury in his post-match press conference leading many to believe it may be a metatarsal or ankle injury, which would likely mean about eight weeks out. Either way, Martinez is out for the foreseeable future.
The night had started so much differently. Within seconds Sancho, from an Antony through-ball, had the ball in the net before being ruled offside. That set the tone, and it was totally United from then on. Playing with fluidity and verve, they outclassed the visitors in every department. Martial, a rare starter, was often central to the attacks and was playing like we hope rather than expect. It seemed the shackles were off.
After fourteen minutes and some near misses, United got their reward. Martial tricked three Sevilla players with his fast feet before cutting them out with a simple pass inside to Sancho. Sancho found Casemiro, who laid it back first-time to Fernandes. He took two touches, shaped to shoot, and then fired the ball into Sabitzer’s feet. The Austrian’s first touch was perfect, and his second was fired past the keeper for the opening goal.
The second goal came soon after. This time it was Martial with the assist. The Frenchman latched onto a Casemiro clearance, broke forward, and then turned back to allow his teammates to run beyond him. Looking up, he spotted Sabitzer’s run and put him through on goal with a defence-splitting pass that the Austrian cooly finished.
At that stage, it looked like the floodgates were open, and United would add to their goals, if not in the first half, then in the second. However, United, instead of pressing home their advantage, became more scrappy and disorganised. Simple passes began to go astray and the early fluidity was gone.
Late in the first half, Lamela was booked for a stamp on Casemiro. Then the referee, looking to even things up, booked Fernandes for a handball when his back was turned, and the ball hit his elbow from close range. The yellow card means that Fernandes misses the away leg of the tie. It seemed to change the mood, and Sevilla grew in confidence, almost scoring on the stroke of halftime but for a Varane clearance off the goal line. The clearance was his last action of the game.
There was worse to come. Much worse. For most of the second half, United looked in control. They were poor and nothing like their good moments of the first but never looked like throwing it all away until late in the half. Fernando looped a ball towards United’s far post, and instead of clearing it, Malacia thought he’d leave it go out for a goal kick, unaware of Navas beyond him. Navas fired the ball back across goal, and it deflected off Malacia and past De Gea at the near post. It was totally self-inflicted.
Sevilla’s second would come soon, but not before Martinez, with no one near him, suddenly broke down and was eventually stretchered off. United were down to ten with six minutes of extra time to hold on for the win. They lasted two. Ocampos looped a cross into the box. En-Nesyri rose highest and somehow headed the ball at Maguire’s head and past De Gea.
United looked by far the better team when they played well, but they seem to struggle to sustain a performance for more than twenty minutes at a time. They will still be favourites to go through. Their further progress in this competition, the fa cup and the league could be scuppered by the sheer amount of fixtures and the injuries they are inevitably picking up.