Two goals up and seemingly cruising towards the Europa League semifinals, Manchester United is now counting the cost of a late meltdown against Sevilla. Own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire in the 84th and 92nd minutes on Thursday left the quarterfinals in the balance at 2-2 ahead of next week’s second leg in Spain.
Meanwhile, injuries to center backs Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez added to a bad night for Erik ten Hag. The United manager is already without injured leading scorer Marcus Rashford at a critical point of the season. Bruno Fernandes is also suspended for the second leg after picking up his third yellow card of the competition.
“We had the game in our hands, we were 2-0 up and should have scored three or four, then we had some unlucky moments with injuries,” Ten Hag said. “I know we can do better in the last part of the game, we have to be more composed. We were a little bit unlucky defensively. It wasn’t a nice night.”
It was Sevilla’s visiting supporters who could be heard singing loudest at the final whistle, with Old Trafford stunned by the Spanish team’s fightback. United can expect a hot reception at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium next week after giving the Spaniards a lifeline at a time when they looked to be headed out of a competition they have dominated in recent times.
“It’s as we said at halftime: with one goal we get back in the tie and we were strong enough to keep going and to take our chances,” Sevilla coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said.
There is a reason why Sevilla has won the trophy six times between 2006-20 and that is because it finds a way through difficult moments. And while it may sit 13th in the Spanish league, it refused to give up, despite being outplayed for the majority of the match.
Marcel Sabitzer scored in the 14th and 21st to give United a 2–0 halftime lead. Antony hit the bar after the break, before Sevilla made Ten Hag’s team pay for failing to kill the game off, with Malacia turning Jesus Navas’ cross into his own net to spark the late comeback.
__ Malacia 84’og
__ Maguire 90’+2 og
David de Gea pulled off a flying save to deny substitute Youssef En-Nesyri from equalizing in stoppage time. But Sevilla was soon celebrating when Maguire inadvertently diverted En-Nesyri’s header put past his own goalkeeper almost immediately after. While Ten Hag must now lift his players after relinquishing control of the quarterfinals matchup, he may also have to plan ahead without key defenders.
Varane was substituted at halftime because of injury and Martinez looked in distress as he was carried off the field by Sevilla players Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel, his Argentina teammates, late on. Ten Hag could not give details of the severity of Martinez’s injury, but the player’s reaction — crouched over and covering his face with his hands on the sideline — appeared to show his own concern.
“I think he will not play on Sunday,” Ten Hag said. “It looks like that but I can’t say what is the diagnosis and I prefer to wait and then we are clear and know exactly what it is.”
United plays Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday before the second leg against Sevilla on Thursday and the FA Cup semi-final against Brighton next weekend. “I have an idea what we can play on Sunday,” Ten Hag said. “But first we have to see tomorrow and talk with medical (staff), see who came out of the game and then we have a plan and then we will bring a good team on pitch.”