Manchester United – Sevilla: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s quest for a first trophy as Manchester United’s manager died at the hands of Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla in a 2-1 Sunday exit from the Europa League semifinals in Germany.
[ MORE: Maguire laments errors, says ‘best team lost’ ]
An early Bruno Fernandes penalty did not hold up as United’s finishing and defense failed them on Suso’s 26th-minute equalizer and the decisive 78th-minute connection from Jesus Navas to super sub Luuk de Jong.
Solskjaer’s men lost in the semifinal stage of a third tournament after falling in the League Cup (Chelsea) and FA Cup (Manchester City).
Sevilla will face Inter Milan or Shakhtar Donetsk in Cologne for Friday’s Europa League Final.
Three things we learned
1. Lopetegui’s subs pay off, questions left for sleepy Solskjaer: Left back Brandon Williams was nowhere to be found when Suso tapped in the opener, and where in the world was Aaron Wan-Bissaka when super sub Luuk de Jong was alone in front to poke fellow sub Munir El Haddadi’s cross past De Gea.
The match was in the 80th minute at that point and United had been tame for at least 10 minutes. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be answering plenty of questions about whether a tactical or personnel shake-up could’ve changed the game before his three 87th-minute subs. Maybe he was asleep at the switch and did not have answers; Mwas betting on extra time, but United never got there and Juan Mata, Daniel James, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah had all of three minutes plus stoppage to make an impact.
2. Another hot goalkeeper keeps United at bay: Montreal-born Moroccon international Yassine “Bono” Bounou was beaten in the first half from the penalty spot but otherwise impeccable, days after United was frustrated until an extra time break through against Copenhagen’s Karl-Johan Johnsson. United outshot Sevilla 20-9 but failed to find its finishing boots.
3. Asleep, asleep, asleep: This third section was going to be called “Pogba quietly brilliant” before a bit of laziness helped inspire Sevilla’s winner.
Don’t get us wrong, that’s not just on Pogba, as Lindelof can’t get a piece of the cross and Wan-Bissaka is doing… something?
De Gea can’t conjure a quick reaction or magical save and Solskjaer remains free of anything shiny.
This is how controlling performances end up as losses, and Sevilla took advantage of two sloppy, sleepy errors.
Man of the Match:
It’s obviously Bono, but let’s wax a bit over United’s top performer.
What if United never met Bruno’s asking price? It’s a question worth asking as the Portuguese playmaker continues to look the best player on every nearly every pitch he’s graced since arriving from Sporting Lisbon. The penalty was nice, but his day was so much more than that.
Fernandes had five key passes before the hour mark, according to SofaScore, and completed all of his long balls and crosses to that point.
Manchester United – Sevilla recap
United won a penalty inside of seven minutes when Martial swept Rashford into the box. The striker’s shot was wayward but he was clattered into and required medical treatment.
Fernandes used a hopping, stuttered run-up to splash a shot into the upper 90 for 1-0 in the ninth minute.
De Gea parried a Diego Ocampos shot in the 16th as Sevilla bid to level the scoreline.
Sevilla found that equalizer through Sergio Reguillon’s cross through the 18, with Harry Maguire and especially Brandon Williams out to lunch for Suso to stroke home at the back post.
Sevilla keeper Bono made a two-fisted save of a knuckling Rashford free kick in the 39th as the match flew to halftime.
Bono’s role grew in importance after the break, styming Anthony Martial off a Fernandes feed before the Portuguese’s shot was blocked out for a corner.
[ MORE: Renewed Messi to Man City talk ]
Martial was again on Bono’s stoop in the 52nd minute, a save coming from the Morocco a moment before yet another.
Julen Lopetegui and Sevilla wanted a penalty when a close-range free kick deflected off the elbow of a leaping United wall member in the 73rd minute but VAR withheld the on-field call.
Another cross evaded the United’s center backs and there wasn’t a full back to bail them out when Lindelof couldn’t get a boot on Jesus Navas’ cross to De Jong and De Gea could not make a save.
Solskjaer made his first subs in the 87th minute, bringing in defender Fosu-Mensah, Mata, and James for Wan-Bissaka, Williams, and Rashford. Odion Ighalo followed in the 90th, but it was too late. The air was out of the balloon.