Sevilla prosper as Manchester United complete extraordinary act of self-destruction

Youssef En-Nesyri grabs two goals as Europa League specialists earn spot in semi-finals

Sevilla 3 Manchester United 0 (Sevilla win 5-2 on agg)

History repeated itself: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. There were nine minutes left on a wild, noisy night when David de Gea, a long way from his line, stumbled and fell, leaving the ball at the feet of Youssef En-Nesyri and the goal at his mercy. From 30 yards the Moroccan finished off this quarter-final, scoring the third of the night, Sevilla’s fifth over the two legs. Manchester United had scored two of them in the first leg, and assisted the rest here.

En-Nesyri got two of them, Loïc Badé the other on a night – two nights in fact – that were an extraordinary act of self-destruction. It is Sevilla who will be in the semi-final. This is their place. It is not United’s; they are out. They were heavily defeated here by much the better team, one that has spent much of this season fighting for survival in Spain.

They may, though, reflect that they started to lose this in the first leg, where they did not take the many, many chances that would have increased a two-goal lead, ending everything; where Lisandro Martínez and Raphaël Varane were forced out; and where they scored both of Sevilla’s goals for them, in the 84th and 92nd minutes. That was what made this possible, perhaps even inevitable, the way it happened almost as absurd as at Old Trafford.

The nature of the first leg invited fatalism, a feeling that if Sevilla were somehow alive some deeper force must be at play. Even their coach, José Luis Mendilibar, had admitted that for an hour he had thought they would concede “a sack full”. And yet when it came to it those two bizarre own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire gave the Spanish side a draw, and maybe a call from destiny. “Lord and master,” the banner said here, a reminder that this is their competition.


The occasion spoke to that too: ticker tape flew and the noise rocked this place. Sevilla accompanied it, forcing what they thought should have been the first corner after just 29 seconds before Marcão sent Marcel Sabitzer into the seats at the side of the pitch a couple of minutes later. The paper that drowned De Gea’s goal had barely been cleared when Sevilla found a way through, a goal up after just eight minutes.

This is a team that has gone back to basics under their third manager of the season, tasked with simplifying everything: Mendilibar has talked about the need to be intense, direct and above all error-free. It is a lesson that United could do with learning; the opener was not an own goal but it might as well have been, as bad in conception as execution. De Gea’s pass to Maguire put the centre back under pressure on the edge of his area. Hunted down, Érik Lamela and En-Nesyri on him fast, he lost the ball. The Moroccan bent it into the corner.

United looked fearful and Sevilla felt it. Aaron Wan-Bissaka soon took out Ivan Rakitic on the edge of the area when there was little need and the next time that De Gea and Maguire were called upon, it ended with a nervous scuff clear. The home fans were enjoying this, a cheer of anticipation every time Maguire got the ball, as if just waiting for the mistake. It wasn’t long before he gave the ball away again. And although Wan-Bissaka might have done better with a clear opening midway through the half and Casemiro headed over a decent chance, United were uneasy and incapable of taking control.

A rabona cross from Nemanja Gudelj that almost gave Lucas Ocampos a chance spoke of Sevilla’s confidence. That was hit by the departure soon after of Marcão but while that required a restructuring of the midfield, the momentum remained theirs.

Fernando was suddenly everywhere, driving through to create openings: the first for Lamela, the second a superb but risky tackle inside his area that began a long run up the line that ended with Suso sliding in at the far post. Another long run just before half-time ended with Rakitic’s superb volley being deflected over. Before that Suso might have got the second but his soft shot was blocked, and Ocampos thought he had with a better effort only for the VAR to rule it out for offside.

It was time to release Marcus Rashford, introduced at the break, but he had only been on the pitch two minutes when Sevilla did score again. United were complicit in their demise once more, a corner hitting Badé's shoulder and looping slowly over De Gea and into the net. A wild scramble almost gave Sevilla the third, En-Nesyri somehow unable to force the ball past De Gea and Luke Shaw and over the line from an inch away.

United needed something big. The ball and the territory were becoming theirs, Sevilla struggling to find a way out, but too little was happening. Almost nothing, in fact. Jesús Navas getting ahead of Wout Weghorst’s pass for Rashford, Bono pushing away Casemiro’s shot and Gudelj diving in front of Weghorst were all the next 25 minutes yielded, until a Christian Eriksen free-kick flew wide.

United offered nothing, except a way through. Another mistake, and there was En-Nesyri and an open goal, United handing Sevilla their ticket into the semi-final of the competition they have made their own. – Guardian