Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League after a shock 2-1 loss at home to Sevilla in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie.
It was a limp display from Jose Mourinho’s side, who fell prey to two quick strikes from substitute Wissam Ben Yedder in the second half, with Romelu Lukaku’s goal proving mere consolation.
Here’s how United’s players fared overall.
David de Gea 6 – Couldn’t do much about the first and nearly pulled off an astonishing save for the second. Denied Ben Yedder a hat-trick.
Antonio Valencia 5 – An off-colour day for the captain. Solid at the back but offered little going forward, on a day United needed it.
Eric Bailly 5 – Shook off an early error to produce a strong display, but the introduction of Ben Yedder caused the Ivorian problems.
Chris Smalling 6 – It’s not often Smalling will outplay Bailly – although both were culpable for Sevilla’s goals.
Ashley Young 4 – Completely lost Ben Yedder for Sevilla’s second, and failed to add attacking impetus from left-back.
Marouane Fellaini 5 – Solid enough in midfield, but contributed to a plodding display from an attacking sense, offering zero inventiveness.
Nemanja Matic 5 – The creative burden fell on Matic with no Pogba next to him, and he failed to deliver.
Marcus Rashford 6 – Was one of the few sparks for United but his final ball was lacking. Disappointing after his display against Liverpool.
Jesse Lingard 5 – Was picked ahead of Juan Mata ostensibly to provide a greater threat on the counter-attack, but ultimately had no impact at all.
Alexis Sanchez 4 – Misplaced passes, lacking confidence to take on a scoring chance first-time – a display typical of his time at United.
Romelu Lukaku 7 – Was United’s best player on the night, holding up the ball well. Missed one clear-cut chance but scored another with aplomb.
Paul Pogba 5 – Offered no impact after coming on. Didn’t look fully fit, and couldn’t provide the running United needed in midfield.
Juan Mata 6 – Hard to see why he didn’t start. Had an instant impact after coming on, creating a chance that Lukaku should’ve finished.
Anthony Martial 5 – Couldn’t provide his usual trickery on the wing, although in fairness he had little time to make an impact.
Following a goalless draw in Spain, it was 74 minutes until the away side’s substitute Wissam Ben Yedder scored the opener to rock United before flooring them with a headed second four minutes later.
Romelu Lukaku pulled one back but it was too little, too late for the hosts whose manager Jose Mourinho was well beaten in the dugout by Sevilla’s Vincenzo Montella.
Goals – 1
Shots – 16
Possession – 52%
Tackles – 24
Dribbles – 15
Goals – 2
Shots – 20
Possession – 48%
Tackles – 22
Dribbles – 8
The United boss set his side up with in a 4-2-3-1 formation but while the back four was a rigid one, the double pivot in midfield of Marouane Fellaini and Nemanja Matic wasn’t at all orthodox with the Belgian given the licence to join the attack.
His ploy didn’t work though and had to resort to desperate measures in the closing stages as his side chased the game and left themselves wide open at the back.
The Italian also set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and was understandably cautious to start with as a score draw would’ve been enough to see them through. As such, he chose to start Joaquin Correa on the left flank and opted for Luis Muriel ahead of Ben Yedder who started on the bench.
Montella timed his switch in approach perfectly as the visitors struck with United lacking time to muster enough of a response.
TACTICAL TALKING POINTS
FELLAINI PLAN FLAWED
With the way Mourinho operates, sometimes the ends can justify the means. This wasn’t one of those times as his strategy of using Fellaini – instructed to take up spaces in the box during every United advance – failed miserably.
The ploy lacked imagination and there was no variation to the attack as aerial balls into Fellaini or Romelu Lukaku – who was kept on a short leash by Clement Lenglet – were forced when there were others in space. Paul Pogba immediately looked a better option when he was introduced.
BENCHED BEN YEDDER STRIKES
Ben Yedder will grab the headlines but it was a notable and timely switch in approach from the manager that gave Sevilla the edge. Up until Montella put Ben Yedder on, the teams resembled two boxers circling the ring, afraid to throw a punch at the risk of exposing themselves.
United had to be braver at home, but it Sevilla were the ones to put some punch into their attack. A positive ball was fizzed into the feet of the fleet-footed French forward who did the rest and it was all Sevilla’s from there.
Mourinho’s tactics against Liverpool were warranted and calculated, but this time they were plain cowardly. Never took the fight to the visitors until there was no choice. The perils of nullifying your opponent instead of playing to your strengths.
Rating – 4/10
Conservative for the most part. His defence, although hardly tested, stood firm with Lenglet in particular impressing. Cleverly chose to bide his time and it paid off. Fine substitutions, though his players were wasteful at the death.
Rating – 8/10
French striker Ben Yedder punishingly stroked in from the edge of the area soon after coming on in the 72nd minute, before heading in at the back post from a corner with the host’s defence in tatters.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku lashed in a consolation to make it 2-1, but it was it was too late to stop the Europa League holders dropping out amid a cacophony of boos at Old Trafford.
The match had previously followed the flow from the goalless first leg, La Liga’s fifth-placed outfit dominating the Premier League’s second best from the off.
MOURINHO’S THE MOMENTUM KILLER
United could not have come into this match in finer fettle.
A revitalising three weeks since the first leg’s retreat in Spain had featured two come-from-behind triumphs, plus this weekend’s commanding 2-1 victory against bitter rivals Liverpool sealed by local boy Marcus Rashford’s brace.
Yet this momentum was killed even before kick-off on Tuesday night.
A collective groan emanated from Old Trafford and beyond when the United XI featured Belgium destroyer Marouane Fellaini and Rashford being switched from the left to right flank in which he wrought destruction four days prior, in deference to the struggling Alexis Sanchez.
Predictability, all the air evaporated from United’s chests.
Profligacy from Vincenzo Montella’s men saw only one shot from 10 reach the target by half time. Within just two minutes of Wissam Ben Yedder’s arrival, they had their cutting edge and United were out.
15 - Manchester United haven’t managed to score more than one goal in any of their last 15 Champions League encounters with Spanish opposition before today (7 goals total). Worry.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 13, 2018
DAVE CAN’T SAVE EVERYTHING
Mourinho’s miserly game plans rely on the dark defensive arts snuffing out vibrant attacks,
Each triumph is labelled as a victory for the pragmatists.
His supporters have recently decried supposed hypocrisy about the plaudits sent Juventus’ way for their masterful job at Tottenham last week.
Yet, there is a huge difference between what the composed Old Lady pulled off at Wembley and the haggard act Mourinho continues to attempt.
It is not the collective defensive talent that gets United through. The statistics overwhelmingly show it is the unbridled brilliance of David De Gea.
Pre kick-off, he’d repelled 20 of 21 opposition shots faced in Europe this term – Opta data suggested an average goalkeeper would have let in five of these. In the Premier League, he’s faced the fourth-most shots but the team has the second-best defence.
‘Dave saves’ is the banner at Old Trafford. But even his one-man act wasn’t enough against Sevilla.
NO PLACE TO HIDE
There can be no ambiguity – United thoroughly and ashamedly deserved this.
The third-most-expensive squad ever assembled had no answer to a Sevilla outfit put together through years of careful bartering and astute scouting.
Over two legs, the bargain-basement Andalusians averaged 54 per cent of possession and had 25 more shots. Don’t forget, they’d never won on English soil on six previous attempts in Europe or progressed to the Champions League’s quarter-finals.
Critically, they appeared a far more coherent unit.
Mourinho still has no clue what to do with – supposedly – stellar winter recruit Sanchez. The Chile forward, at the start, was gifted his favoured left wing yet he had one off-target shot and just 68.8-per-cent pass accuracy.
The decision to start the leaden-footed centre-midfield axis of Fellaini and Nemanja Matic was unforgivably negative.
After nearly two seasons in charge, progress is too staccato. Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Brighton looms large.