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