Manchester United draws against Sevilla in the Europa League

Manchester United draws against Sevilla in the Europa League

Sevilla struck twice in the closing six minutes to force a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinal after Manchester United lost a two-goal advantage.

With two goals from Marcel Sabitzer in the first 20 minutes, Erik ten Hag’s squad appeared to be in control of their Europa League fate. However, late own goals from Tyrell Malacia and replacement Harry Maguire mean Man United have work to do in Spain next week to secure a spot in the semifinals.

Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez suffered injuries that ended their nights playing for United. The Argentinean left the game in the second half with what seemed to be a foot injury.

A difficult night for United makes the Europa League more difficult

Given that Man United had been in charge for so long, some United supporters may have checked the outcome of the match between Juventus and Sporting Lisbon to see where they would be moving on to the semifinals. Up until Sevilla struck twice in the closing six minutes to give United the advantage going into the return leg in Spain the following week.

In LaLiga, Sevilla is only five points above the relegation spots, and for the majority of the evening, Man United imposed themselves with the dominant display that most observers anticipated. In a frenzied first 20 minutes, Sabitzer scored twice, but the necessary third goal to break the tie never materialized.

With the help of two own goals, the first one coming from Malacia and the second one coming from Maguire, Sevilla was able to rally nearly from nothing. Not only that, but Ten Hag had to replace Varane at halftime while watching his center-back partner Martinez be carried away after suffering a foot injury.

Bruno Fernandes will be suspended from the second leg in Spain after receiving a ticket, which would further complicate matters.

The United team should have had an easy night, but they will now have to earn their spot in the semifinals.

Christian Eriksen’s bad ankle injury prevented United from signing Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich in January, but the Austrian midfielder appears set on staying. Sabitzer is expected to return to Germany after the current campaign because the contract with Bayern does not include a permanent option. But if he puts up a few more performances like this, he will undoubtedly stay at Old Trafford longer.

With Fernandes closer to Casemiro while playing in a more advanced position versus Sevilla, Sabitzer scored twice in the opening 20 minutes. Both times, he ran past the Sevilla defense to receive passes from a midfielder, first from Fernandes and then from Anthony Martial.

One position that United is aiming to improve in the summer is the midfield, and the team is still interested in Frenkie De Jong while also keeping an eye on Jude Bellingham’s situation at Borussia Dortmund. However, Sabitzer is far less expensive, and Ten Hag has the benefit of already being aware that he can access his system.

The adaptability of Sabitzer is also a plus; he demonstrated against Sevilla that he is equally at ease playing at No. 10 behind the striker as he is at No. 8 or No. 6.

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Martial steps up

Marcus Rashford’s impending absence from the field after contributing to nearly a third of United’s goals this season is a setback for Ten Hag, but it won’t be nearly as terrible if Martial can remain healthy.

The Frenchman has performed well when he has played, but the season hasn’t seen enough of him. Only his 10th of a season marred by injuries, his start versus Sevilla, where he spent the second part of last season on loan, was notable. Martial made his first start in three months as well.

But Ten Hag is a supporter of what Martial offers, and in Rashford’s absence, he demonstrated why.

Sabitzer’s first goal was assisted by Martial, who worked the ball back into midfield from a constrained area on the right. Martial also assisted in setting up Sabitzer’s second goal with a superbly timed cross through Sevilla’s defense.

The Dutchman revealed this week that Martial is in his strongest XI and that United has played its best football when he has been healthy and available. It portends well for a pivotal matchup in which Martial could be needed to play a pivotal role as Rashford recovers. He performed admirably against Sevilla, but the biggest bonus was that he was able to play the whole 60 minutes without suffering any injuries.

For Ten Hag, Martial’s performance was a bonus, but Sevilla’s two late goals have diminished any gains.

Author: Bobby Parker