History repeated itself: if the first leg was tragedy, the second was farce. Together, they ended Manchester United’s hopes of a European title. There were nine minutes left on a wild, noisy night in Seville 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 and their fate at his mercy. From 30 yards the Moroccan rolled it in to finish this quarter-final, scoring the third here, Sevilla’s fifth over two legs.
Manchester United had scored two of those for them in the first leg and they “assisted” the rest here to go out 5-2 on aggregate. They gave the ball away for the first and the third, both scored by En-Nesyri; between those, a Loïc Badé effort off his shoulder looped slowly, easily over the keeper and in. At the end of a night – two nights in fact – that were an extraordinary act of self-destruction from United, it is Sevilla that will be in the semi-final, this stadium bouncing about.
United offered nothing to suggest they could continue. Heavily defeated, the mistakes could not disguise that they had been beaten by much the better team here, one that has spent much of this season fighting for survival.
If De Gea and Harry Maguire were the usual suspects, they were all guilty, Erik ten Hag admitting they lacked fight and character, calling that deficit “unacceptable”. He may, though, still reflect on the first leg, where his team did not take the chances that would have ended everything early; Lisandro Martínez and Raphaël Varane were forced out; and two bizarre own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Maguire in the 84th and 92nd minutes made this possible.
Perhaps it was 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 survived some deeper force must be at play, a call from destiny. “Lord and master,” the banner said, a reminder that this is their competition, unfolded amid ticker tape and thunder from the stands.
Sevilla accompanied that atmosphere, forcing what they thought was the first corner on 29 seconds before Marcão sent Marcel Sabitzer flying off the pitch a couple of minutes later. The paper that drowned David de Gea’s net had barely been cleared when they put the ball there after only eight minutes.
This is a team that has simplified everything under their third manager. José Luis Mendilibar wants his team 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 it was in execution. De Gea’s pass to Maguire put the centre-back under pressure on the edge of his area. Hunted down by Erik Lamela and En-Nesyri he lost the ball. The Moroccan bent it into the corner. “That reinforced our idea to rob in their half,” Mendilibar said, and how.
United looked fearful and Sevilla felt it. The next time 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. It wasn’t long before he gave it away again. And although Aaron Wan-Bissaka might have done better with a clear opening midway through the half and Casemiro headed over a decent chance, United were uneasy, flat and incapable of taking control.
A rabona cross from Nemanja Gudelj that almost gave Lucas Ocampos a chance spoke of the confidence Sevilla felt at this point, even if that was hit by the departure soon afterwards of Marcão, which required a restructuring of the midfield.
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 that eventually saw Suso sliding in at the far post, and the third leading to Ivan Rakitic’s superb volley being deflected over. Before that Suso’s soft shot was blocked and Ocampos put the ball in the net only for the VAR to rule it out for offside.
It was time to release Marcus Rashford, introduced at the break, but still there was no reaction. He had only been on the pitch for two minutes when Sevilla scored their second goal of the night. United were complicit in their demise once more, a corner hitting Badé’s shoulder before looping past De Gea. A wild scramble then almost gave Sevilla the third, En‑Nesyri somehow unable to force the ball past De Gea and Luke Shaw and over the line an inch away.
United needed something big but had nothing at all. If the ball and the territory were becoming theirs, too little was happening. Jesús Navas getting ahead of Wout Weghorst’s pass for Rashford, Bono pushing away Casemiro’s shot and Gudelj diving in front of Weghorst was all the next 45 minutes yielded.
The only thing the visitors created was for their opponents: 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.