Manchester United will be left to rue a string of missed chances as they were beaten 2-1 by Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were hoping it would be third time lucky in a semi-final after being knocked out in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup last four earlier this season, but a lack of cutting edge and defensive errors cost them once again.
They made the ideal start though when Bruno Fernandes (9) converted from the spot after Marcus Rashford was fouled by Diego Carlos. But former Liverpool winger Suso (27) levelled things up with a tap-in during an entertaining first half.
2 – Including both their quarter-final victory over FC København and their match with Sevilla tonight, Manchester United had 46 shots, with 21 hitting the target; however, the Red Devils managed just two goals from the penalty spot in those matches. Dissect. #UEL pic.twitter.com/VOHVGVLket
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 16, 2020
United had a string of chances after the break to re-take the lead – Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Fernandes and Rashford all going close – but paid for these misses when Luuk de Jong (78) tapped home late on after some poor defending from Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Five-time Europa League winners Sevilla will face either Inter Milan or Shakhtar Donetsk in Friday’s final in Cologne while Manchester United once again fall just short.
How Man Utd crashed out of another semi-final
It was a strong start from United as they looked to produce a better performance than their edgy quarter-final win against FC Copenhagen and were awarded a penalty inside seven minutes.
It was a superb bit of play too as a cheeky heeled pass from Martial picked out Rashford down the left of the area, with the latter’s shot saved well by Yassine Bounou. However, just after the ball left his foot, Rashford was chopped down by Carlos, sending him sliding off the field in some real pain.
Sevilla: Bounou (8), Navas (7), Kounde (6), Carlos (5), Reguilon (7), Fernando (6), Banega (8), Ocampos (7), Suso (7), Jordan (7), En-Nesyri (6).
Subs used: Munir (6), De Jong (7), Vazquez (6), Gudelj (n/a).
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Wan-Bissaka (5), Maguire (6), Lindelof (6), Williams (6), Pogba (6), Fred (6), Fernandes (7), Greenwood (6), Rashford (6), Martial (5).
Subs used: Mata (n/a), James (n/a), Fosu-Mensah (n/a), Ighalo (n/a).
Man of the match: Ever Banega.
As Fernandes chased down the loose ball, the referee blew for a penalty which the Portuguese lined up, albeit with a short delay so Rashford could be seen by the medical team. Once he took it though, it was a cool dispatch past Bounou.
Going behind seemed to spark Sevilla into life after a nervous start, but against the run of play, United could have doubled their lead in the 14th minute.
Fred initially won the ball back before sending Fernandes away on a driving run. The midfielder then slipped the ball back to Fred, who had acres of space ahead of him, but his run left him on a tight angle and he could only fire into the side of the net. Shortly after, Lucas Ocampos forced a strong punch from David de Gea at the near post as Sevilla edged towards an equaliser.
- Sevilla named the same XI that beat Wolves 1-0 last week.
- David de Gea was trusted in goal for the semi-final, replacing regular Europa League goalkeeper Sergio Romero. It was one of two changes with Eric Bailly also being replaced by Victor Lindelof.
And the goal came in the 26th minute after a wonderful team move. Ocampos played a superb forward pass into the path of Regulion, who then sent a fizzing cross through the area. Suso was waiting at the back post as Brandon Williams scrambled to get back before tapping into the back of the net.
United will feel slightly aggrieved at the equaliser though as they should have been awarded the throw-in that began the passage of play. However, with VAR unable to go back that far for a goal, it was not reviewed or ruled out.
As with the first half, United came bursting out of the traps after the break and the scores were only kept level by some superb Bounou saves and blocks. Inside two minutes, Greenwood sent his effort straight at the goalkeeper before Martial, Rashford and Fernandes saw a series of shots saved or blocked by the Sevilla defence.
Martial was twice denied by Bounou not long after, his first shot saved by the legs of the goalkeeper. His second looked to be an easy chip over the Sevilla stopper but Bounou was there was again to deny the Frenchman as Manchester United wasted yet another chance.
United continued to see the better of the play and restricted their opponents to few attacking moves, but were made to pay for their early missed chances – as well as some woeful defending – when De Jong fired Sevilla into the final. Former Manchester City man Jesus Navas whipped in a cross from the right, with De Jong lurking in between Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka. The full-back in particular stopped moving entirely as the striker tapped the winner home.
It prompted an angry confrontation between Lindelof and Fernandes in the aftermath as United crashed out of another semi-final while Sevilla have reach their sixth Europa League final – two more than any other side in the competition’s history.
Man of the match – Ever Banega
Going into the game, Banega was easily identified as Sevilla’s dangerman and although he might not grab any of the headlines, he was the beating heart for the La Liga side and instrumental in their success.
He made everything look easy with and without the ball. Although Banega did give the ball away in a dangerous area once after half-time, he was otherwise insightful, tidy and classy in his play.
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
‘Coming up against one goalkeeping masterclass might be unlucky. Face two inside a week and the side’s ruthlessness in front of goal will be questioned. Marcus Rashford was sloppy in his execution. Anthony Martial was denied twice in a minute by Sevilla goalkeeper Bono when one on one. Shots were blocked and others were missed. The sucker punch was always possible.
‘It was no surprise that when it came it was carved out down United’s left where the willing Brandon Williams endured a challenging evening. And yet, it was the defending of others for Luuk de Jong’s 78th minute winner that will have troubled Solskjaer. Victor Lindelof should have done more to block the cross. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s failure to even move as the ball came in appeared inexplicable. It was shoddy. It was punished.’
Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui: “We suffered for some moments of the game against Manchester United, specially at the start of the second half. They had a couple of clear chances to score but Bono keeps us alive in the match, then we show our heart. We knew it could be possible [to reach the final].
“We continued running a lot and I think at the end of the second half we were better and we scored the second goal. We are very happy to be in the final and I am very happy for the players as they deserve to be in the final.
“I am also very happy for our supporters as this time are so difficult for the society. It is nice we can bring some joy the people and that make us very happy. We have plenty of excitement to play the final and hopefully to win it. We don’t know against whom yet, but it is going to be even a tougher match, so we need to prepare very well.”
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “The result is very disappointing. We’re not devastated, but it’s one of those hard ones to take because you feel you played some fantastic stuff at times, created chances and just couldn’t get the goals that were, I felt, deserved at times. In different spells of the game, I thought we were absolutely excellent.
“We were on top for long spells, both first and second half, especially at the start of both halves. We created chances and should have scored, but I can’t fault the boys.
“But we seem to let off at times because when we were on top, that’s the time to keep squeezing them. We let them play too much in periods and we definitely let him off the hook.
“It’s a disappointing goal [De Jong’s winner] to concede. I want them players to be accountable and to put others to account, but then again, the cross got deflected. Brandon [Williams] has been a bit unlucky and Victor [Lindelof] just gets caught with a ball looping over him after that deflection. So I think that was just a bit of frustration.”
- Manchester United have now been eliminated from European competition by Spanish opposition for the third consecutive campaign, also losing to Sevilla in the Champions League Last 16 in 2017-18 and Barcelona in the 2018-19 Champions League quarter-finals.
- Sevilla are now unbeaten in their last 20 games in all competitions since a 1-2 defeat to Celta Vigo in February (W11 D9), just the fourth different side within Europe’s top five leagues this season to enjoy such a run (also Bayern Munich, PSG & Real Madrid).
- Since his Manchester United debut on February 1st 2020, only Robert Lewandowski (28) and Lionel Messi (27) have had a direct hand in more goals in all competitions than Bruno Fernandes (20 – 12 goals, 8 assists) within Europe’s top five leagues.
Sevilla will face either Inter Milan or Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League final on Friday August 21. The second semi-final will be played on Monday (kick-off 8pm), which you can follow across Sky Sports’ digital platforms.
Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk (Monday August 17, Merkur Spiel-Arena)
Friday August 21 (RheinEnergieStadion)