Wissam Ben Yedder shines as Jose Mourinho falters: Five things we learned from Manchester United 1-2 Sevilla

Lawrence Ostlere, Tom Newman
The Independent
Wissam Ben Yedder shines as Jose Mourinho fails: Five things we learned from Manchester United 1-2 Sevilla
Wissam Ben Yedder shines as Jose Mourinho fails: Five things we learned from Manchester United 1-2 Sevilla

Sevilla saw off a lacklustre Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, with a brace from Wissam Ben Yedder enough to see the visitors progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.

A late goal from Romelu Lukaku was a mere consolation for United, as they failed to progress to the quarter-final stage for the first time since 2014.

READ MORE: Ben Yedder sends dire Man Utd crashing out of Champions League

READ MORE: Sevilla’s secret weapon for Man Utd tie

AS IT HAPPENED: Man Utd vs Sevilla

Here are five things we learnt:

Mourinho’s stifling tactics failed

This was not a defensively water-tight Sevilla team. They have a negative goal difference in La Liga, conceding 42 goals in 28 games – only five teams in the Spanish top flight have let in more. The fact that United could not find a way through them for 173 minutes, barely creating a credible chance along the way until the final throes, is perhaps the biggest indictment of this team.

Jose Mourinho will take the brunt of the criticism coming United’s way and rightly so. His obsession with keeping the tie controlled and within his tactical reach meant his team played some of their most subdued football of the season, lacking adventure or a sense of attacking purpose in order to contain Sevilla’s threat.

It worked against Chelsea two weeks ago. It worked against Liverpool on Saturday. But too often this season Mourinho’s tactics have seemed to constrain his team rather than deliver those type of victories, and this was the worst example yet.

Sanchez disappoints again

After Alexis Sanchez’s transfer to United in January, much was expected of the Chilean forward when he became the highest paid player at the club. 

But Sanchez looked far from his best at Old Trafford, with several failed attempts to carry the ball forwards and clearly lacking a clinical cutting edge in the final third. With the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata all pressing for a starting berth, the pressure is undeniably building on Sanchez to start delivering for his club, and he fell short once again against Sevilla.

Having played Premier League football with Arsenal, Sanchez is acclimatised to the demands of the English game, and there are no doubts his time in Manchester has been lacklustre so far, with his performance on Tuesday night only further emphasising the disappointing start to his United career.

Ben Yedder the hero for Sevilla

Ben Yedder scored a memorable brace, with two different yet two incredibly important goals to see his side emerge with a win. His smart turn and snap-finish in the 73rd minute saw Sevilla go 1-0 up, with David De Gea incapable of keeping out the low drive. He followed that with a fearless header, which De Gea was once again unable to keep out despite pushing the ball on to the bar, as United saw their hopes of Champions League progression snatched away in four second-half minutes.

Vincenzo Montella's decision to bring on the un-capped French forward shortly before his opening goal proved a masterstroke, and was undoubtedly the catalyst for Sevilla's memorable night in Manchester.

Pogba’s absence noticeable

Paul Pogba’s injury-induced absence from the starting lineup resulted in Marouane Fellaini getting his first start in over three months, and the talent of the French midfielder was certainly missed by Mourinho’s side.

Whilst Fellaini ran tirelessly for just shy of 59 minutes at Old Trafford, the finesse and skill of Pogba was needed at the centre of United’s midfield. Mourinho will be hoping for a return to fitness for Pogba to aid their domestic pursuits for Champions League qualification, though it is unquestionably a hammer blow for their aspirations in the current campaign to be out of Europe once more. 

Correa cuts United open

United cannot say they weren’t warned. Throughout the first leg, Joaquin Correa flitted in from the wing to find pockets of space behind Mourinho’s midfield, and it was another of his clever pieces of movement which created the decisive opening goal.

Correa pulled away from Ashley Young who chose not to go with the winger, and that decision proved costly. The 23-year-old received the ball on the half-turn before showing his quality with a perfectly weighted ball for Ben Yedder. Those are the fine margins at the sharp end of the Champions League, and Correa showed that is where he belongs.

What to read next