Just when everyone thought things have gone back to normal for Manchester United after successful victories in the English Premier League, the 20-time league champion was held to a 2-2 draw by Spanish La Liga side Sevilla in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Quarterfinal. Despite the Red Devils taking a 2-0 advantage within the opening 21 minutes of the game, late own goals by their defenders forced the team to settle for a draw at the end. That meant Erik ten Hag’s men will have it all to play for in the second leg at Spain a week from now.
Sabitzer’s Double Got United Off to a Flying Start
Manchester United was the victorious side against Everton in the Premier League last time around. The team welcomed three changes to the starting line-up that beat Toffees with a 2-0 score line last weekend, whereas Sevilla saw seven changes to the squad that was held to a 2-2 draw in La Liga.
The home side put the ball into the back of the net within the first minute after the initial whistle was blown, but England international Jadon Sadon was flagged offside for his effort. United continued to pounce for first blood, and did so in the 14th minute. Erik ten Hag’s men combined for a series of great link-ups, before captain Bruno Fernandes squeezed a pass for his midfield partner Marcel Sabitzer in the penalty box. The Austrian controlled the ball well and fired it past Bono to break the deadlock.
The goal was the midfielder’s second for Manchester United since sealing a loan move to the Premier League giants, and he wasted no time to score his third for his new club in this game. A counterattack several minutes later saw Antony Martial break away and take on the entire Sevilla defence on his own. The fit-again Frenchman then found Sabitzer with a wonderful through ball, followed by a cool finish by the 29-year-old Wels-born player. The Austrian’s double was the difference between both sides going into the second half.
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United Squandered 2-0 Margin Thanks to Two Own Goals
Erik ten Hag’s men were motivated to find a third in the second half, and had several chances to achieve that via Brazilian winger Antony. The 23-year-old former Ajax player was inches away from scoring, after one of his shots was met by the bar. These wasted chances would prove costly in the game as Sevilla forced Manchester United to commit two own goals within minutes during the dying moments of the match.
Tyrell Malacia was unable to clear a long ball by Sevilla, which was then met by substitute Jesús Navas in the penalty box. The 37-year-old crossed it first-time and his delivery was deflected by the Dutch left-back’s left foot and ended in the back of his own net; There was nothing United’s no. 1 David de Gea could do about it. Eight minutes later, Lucas Ocampos whipped in a cross to another replacement Youssef En-Nesyri. The Moroccan forward rose to meet the ball and his header struck Harry Maguire before bouncing past de Gea for the equaliser.
The goal left Manchester United players and fans in distraught, having wasted a 2-0 lead and many opportunities to extend their lead in the game. The result meant both teams will be heading to Spain next week with a cup tie hanging in the balance.
Respect 👏 pic.twitter.com/kIzqBtxiI9
— 433 (@433) April 13, 2023
Ten Hag: “We Were a Little Bit Unlucky with the Defending.”
The 53-year-old Dutch labelled the late collapse due to misfortunate events in his team’s defence and injuries that were suffered by first-choice defenders Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martínez. “I think we had the game in hand, we were 2-0 up and should have scored three or four. The game was totally on us. Some unlucky moments with injuries. Raphael Varane at half-time, Anthony Martial because it was his first start, Antony and Bruno Fernandes because they were on a yellow card. Then we lose control at an unlucky moment, then another unlucky moment with Lisandro [Martinez] going off injured when we go down to 10. We conceded two own goals, that is bad luck. We have to learn, we have to kill the game, but everything is open for the next game”, he said.
Manchester United will travel to City Ground to face Nottingham Forest for a Premier League game in the weekend next, before meeting Sevilla once again in the UEFA Europa League.
Another Premier League club Chelsea was defeated by Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. Read here for more match details.