A SEVERE BEATING
Spaniards make United pay for a lack of ambition on nightmare evening for Jose
HE was dressed like an undertaker and Sevilla boss Vincenzo Montella made sure his side buried Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho’s side slunk out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage after falling victim to two goals in four minutes from Sevilla sub Wissam Ben Yedder.
Favourites to progress after a 0-0 draw in Spain, United were flat throughout and validated Mourinho’s prematch admission that they were not equipped to go on and win the competition.
Sevilla, fifth in La Liga, were considered one of the weaker teams left in the last 16, but they were more than a match for United, second in the Premier League.
Mourinho moaned at the fourth official for only allowing four minutes of added time, but the reality is he got his team selection and tactics wrong.
The Portuguese made two changes to the side that beat Liverpool 2-1 at the weekend, Marouane Fellaini in for Scott McTominay and Jesse Lingard for Juan Mata. The inclusion of Fellaini, who has just recovered from knee surgery and made his first appearance since November at the weekend as a sub, felt like an unnecessary gamble from Mourinho (below).
Having only made five starts all season and clearly not match-fit after his enforced absence, Fellaini’s inclusion was an undoubted risk.
United made an impressive start, and could have gone ahead after some swift interplay between Lingard and Romelu Lukaku, which ended with the latter scooping a shot high and wide.
Sevilla were presented with their own opportunity to open the scoring after nine minutes, Joaquin Correa getting to Ever Banega’s corner first to send a glancing header just over the bar.
United soon put themselves under needless pressure, never more so than in the 13th minute when Eric Bailly passed straight to an opponent, then watched in relief as Luis Muriel squandered the chance. The Reds’ game plan soon became clear – lump it forward to Fellaini and use his aerial threat to knock it down and win the second ball, but it was a tactic to which Sevilla soon adapted.
With Fellaini woefully off the pace and leaving Nemanja Matic isolated, great swathes of space opened up for the visitors to exploit, which they did on numerous occasions in the first-half. Franco Vazquez sent a wild shot over, while Muriel dragged an angled effort wide of David De Gea’s far post after United were left exposed.
Marcus Rashford, so effective on the left against Liverpool, was switched to the right to accommodate Alexis Sanchez and struggled to have the same kind of impact, despite toiling hard.
Sanchez failed to impose himself on the game once again, and it remains to be seen how long Mourinho persists with the forward. The home crowd were becoming anxious, but the Reds finally rose from their slumber in the 37th minute, Fellaini forcing a fine save from keeper Sergio Rico after exchanging passes with Lingard.
Sevilla had a chance to take the lead and plunder a precious away goal two minutes after the restart, with only a perfectly-timed challenge from Bailly preventing Correa from pulling the trigger.
Lingard saw an angled shot palmed away by Rico, but they were undone in the 73rd minute when sub Ben Yedder put the visitors in front.
He had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes, but timed his run perfectly, running on to the ball and taking a touch before burying a low shot past De Gea.
United’s Champions League campaign was effectively over four minutes later, Ben Yedder their tormentor again, heading in at the far post.
Lukaku gave the hosts a glimmer of hope with an acrobatic finish in the 84th minute, but it still left them needing two more goals to progress, a task which ultimately proved beyond them.
DOWN.. AND OUT Lukaku and Man United were floored by Sevilla and two goals from Ben Yedder