Manchester United were dumped out the Champions League by underdogs Sevilla on Tuesday evening, going down 2-1 at Old Trafford to leave José Mourinho ruing a goalless draw in Spain in the first leg.
A lethargic, uninspiring display led to a number of boos as the final whistle was blown, and though Mourinho didn’t show it in his post-match interview, he must be bitterly disappointed to exit European competition for another season.
It will be a game United will want to forget, but maybe it’s also one they can learn from as they go into future challenges under Mourinho.
Here are five talking points from Old Trafford where a second English side were knocked out of the Champions League.
Man United let Sevilla do the talking
After a lively and encouraging opening five minutes led by the wily, bullish forward play of the occasionally unstoppable Romelu Lukaku, and some promising signs from Marcus Rashford despite being shifted out to the right wing, the game turned into one which may as well have been held at a neutral venue.
United gave their fans nothing to cheer, and nothing to get behind, as both sides waited to see what the other would do.
The game had the feel of a Europa League tie, although that’s probably unfair on the teams who remain in that particular competition. Until Sevilla sparked it into life, it may have been more accurate to compare it to a pre-season game.
What happens when two teams park the bus? If they were parked like this in a driving test the examiner would have failed both.
Sevilla, though, despite being the side who just needed a score draw to progress, created the most chances in the first half, but they were still wary and were very wasteful when presented with good opportunities.
Possession was 50:50 for much of the game, with the visitors just edging the first half and United having slightly more of the ball in the second.
However, given they were playing at Old Trafford Mourinho’s team will have been expected to have dominated the game, especially against a team whom they were widely expected to brush aside when the draw was made.
Ben Yedder should start ahead of Muriel in quarters
Muriel was eventually replaced by the Frenchman in the 71st minute, and the 20 minutes Ben Yedder was given on the pitch were enough to see his side into the next round at United’s expense.
The second was a headed effort which just made it across the line after he’d found himself in a good position at the far post, getting enough on the header to see it cross the line despite de Gea’s best efforts to keep it out.
Questions will be asked if Muriel starts over Ben Yedder in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, but for now Sevilla will be happy that their No 9 was able to make an impact of the bench in this memorable victory on English soil.
McTominay deserves his place in United midfield…
…at least at the moment, and at least for this particular incarnation of United.
It’s easy to pick out a player who wasn’t present in a defeat and say the team missed them, but it wasn’t that Scott McTominay was missed as such, more that those in his place didn’t do much to warrant their own inclusion.
The club’s record signing, Paul Pogba, needs to up his game if he’s to return to the side, and after today he gave his manager every excuse not to pick him.
It seems ridiculous to say that the 21-year-old Lancastrian is currently more useful than one of the most expensive players in world football, but Pogba’s sloppiness after entering the fray in place of Marouane Fellaini was painful to watch.
The Frenchman completed just 74 per cent of his passes during the time he was on the pitch, and made no key passes. He did try one shot which blazed wide, but some of his play drew groans from the home crowd.
Felliani doesn’t seem like the answer either, and even Nemanja Matić looked slower than usual across the Old Trafford turf.
N’Zonzi & Banega double act is Champions League quality
Steven N’Zonzi and Banega were the only players on the park to rack up more than 100 touches of the ball, and looked very much the part on this stage.
Forming a double pivot in the Sevilla midfield, they dominated the game and engineered numerous chances which one of their strikers was eventually able to take.
Banega emerged from the game with an impressive seven key passes, while his midfield partner was a useful shield in front of the back four, winning the same amount of aerial duels.
Compare the heat map based on touches of the ball, right, with that of Matic and Fellaini, on the left, and their midfield dominance and assertiveness is clear.
Lenglet as important to victory as Ben Yedder
Sevilla’s French centre-back was the man responsible for keeping United at bay on the few occasions they managed to threaten.
After Lukaku brushed aside Simon Kjær in the opening stages, despite the Danish centre-back’s persistence as he kept coming back for more, the Belgian found life more difficult against his centre-back partner Clément Lenglet.
The defender on the left side of the pair was heavily involved in the type of defending the home fans may have expected to see from their own team, and saw a bit of from Eric Bailly against Liverpool on Saturday.
Lenglet blocked three shots, made seven clearances, and three interceptions, but some of his best defending involved mere distraction.
He was in front of Lukaku when a Rashford ball looped towards him for what should have been a good chance, but though the defender didn’t get anything on the ball, he did enough to distract the striker and see him miss it.
There were other similar occasions throughout the game, and Lenglet also won two aerial duels, with the defence helped by N’Zonzi.
At the end of the match Ben Yedder’s goals were the difference, but that Sevilla were still in a position for that to be the case was down Lenglet.