Sevilla knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League with a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford. Here’s what we learned.
Substitutions were the difference in what was a thrilling second leg in Manchester, as Sevilla knocked United out of the Champions League. Wissam Ben Yedder subbed on in the second half and scored two goals to dispose of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Here are three takeaways from the match.
Eric Bailly and David de Gea can’t do it by themselves
Manchester United suffered their first loss at Old Trafford in a European competition in five years.
While it may come as a surprise, they’re lucky it only ended 2-1 on aggregate.
Before Sevilla opened the scoring, center-back Eric Bailly, only recently back from injury, had to make two goal-saving plays.
In the 48th minute, Angel Correa received a cross unmarked in the box, but it took him some time to control the ball. It turned out to be just enough for Bailly to charge him down and prevent him from getting a shot off.
Nine minutes later, Sevilla countered after an Alexis Sanchez shot was blocked and a cross from the byline looked destined for a Luis Muriel tap-in, but Bailly just barely beat him to it and forced it out for a goal-kick.
David de Gea, meanwhile, had to save 25 shots in the first leg in Spain. Tonight, even after going down 2-0, he had to save a one-on-one with Ben Yedder.
The match could’ve easily ended 5-1. Regardless, it’s clear Bailly and De Gea are the only two members of United’s defense that are good enough to compete with Europe’s elite. If Mourinho isn’t able to bring in any defenders on their level this summer, do they stick around? Or do they say enough is enough?
Sevilla can enjoy this, but then they must return to their roots
Sevilla have advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since the ’50s.
It’s a fantastic achievement, but they most likely won’t be in the competition next season. They’re 11 points off the top four with 10 games left in La Liga. Finishing top four is no guarantee next season either. Valencia are on the rise under Marcelino, as are Villarreal under Javier Calleja.
The easiest route back to the Champions League for them is a familiar one: the Europa League.
The Spanish club won back-to-back-to-back Europa League titles under Unai Emery. If they hope to keep their upcoming absence from the Champions League an anomaly, they’ll need to pursue their fourth Europa League title in six years.
New manager Vincenzo Montella, who took over in December, has made a deep run in the competition before. In 2014, he made it to the semis with Fiorentina only to be knocked out by eventual champions, Emery’s Sevilla.
Hopefully his experience and the club’s can mesh and lead them to the trophy next season, giving them the opportunity to build off this quarterfinal appearance.
Is this the match that gets Mourinho fired?
Mourinho said before the match that this is the do-or-die week for the Red Devils.
It started well with a win over Liverpool, but the Premier League is clearly out of reach. A deep run in the Champions League or winning the FA Cup is the last thing that could make this season something of a success.
Not only is a deep Champions League run off the table now, but the opportunity has escaped their grasp in embarrassing fashion: A 2-1 loss at Old Trafford to a side who won’t be in the competition next season. They scored one goal across 180 minutes and could’ve lost by a much worse scoreline on aggregate if not for the heroics of Bailly and De Gea.
United and Mourinho are at the lowest of lows while their bitter rivals Manchester City are experiencing the highest of highs.
Rightly or wrongly, that may be enough to signal an end to the Mourinho era in Manchester.