Putting in a nightmare second-leg display away in Spain on Thursday night, Manchester United came crashing out of the Europa League following a stunning 3-0 defeat against Sevilla.
Suffering a remarkable last-gasp collapse at Old Trafford last week as they eventually had to settle for a 2-2 draw, Erik ten Hag’s side failed to find any kind of stability on a night that will be seen as one of their worst performances of the season.
Going 1-0 behind after just eight minutes as Youssef En-Nesyri sent the home support into overdrive, Sevilla simply didn’t look back as they produced a heavyweight Europa League romp at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Eventually falling to a 5-2 aggregate defeat as En-Nesyri and Loic Bade bagged a second-half brace, Manchester United know that they face a huge amount of scrutiny when they return home.
Although Sevilla certainly deserve all of the plaudits as they move one-step closer to getting their hands on a seventh Europa League crown, it will be United’s nightmare display that will steal all of the headlines.
Completely blown away in Andalusia and hit with a woeful Europa League departure, what did we learn from Thursday’s showdown?
United’s defensive replacements are not up to scratch
While Manchester United would have been glad to see attacking talisman Marcus Rashford make his return from a brief injury issue here, there is no doubt that fans around Old Trafford will be hugely concerned by their absentees at the other end of the pitch.
Left heartbroken last week as it was announced that summer arrival and World Cup-winner Lisandro Martinez will miss the remainder of the season due to a foot injury, there are also growing fears over how long Raphael Varane faces on the sidelines.
With some fearing that the French international could still need to undergo surgery, ten Hag’s second-string defensive options have certainly demonstrated what is a huge difference in quality.
While both Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof might have been thrust into the limelight due to United’s injury struggles, neither has failed to pull up any trees and have only demonstrated why they’re destined for the Old Trafford exit this summer.
Torn to shreds by Sevilla’s attack on Thursday night, ten Hag has a real headache over what he can do with a second-string defence that has proven why they’re not good enough to compete at an elite European level.
Ten Hag will feel like he has underachieved this season
Ending their six-year wait to lift a piece of silverware back in February as they were crowned EFL Cup champions thanks to a 2-0 victory against Newcastle at Wembley, ten Hag had made it clear that he was planning for a silverware sweep this season.
While many fans around Old Trafford would have opened the 2022/23 campaign with their sights set on claiming a crucial top-four return, the Premier League giants had opened the New Year tipped as a genuine title dark horse.
However, although Thursday’s guests might have enjoyed their Wembley day out a couple of months ago, many had United down as a leading pick to claim a first European trophy since back in 2017.
Eventually completely blown away here and knowing that they will face some real scrutiny when they return to Manchester, the former Ajax boss will be feeling like he has somewhat underachieved following Thursday’s Europa League exit.
Although United might face a quick turnaround as they prepare for an FA Cup semi-final meeting away at Brighton this weekend, their European collapse could prove to be a major psychological blow.
Sevilla simply have United’s number
Although Sevilla might have entered the World Cup’s winter break at the heart of a stunning La Liga relegation scrap, Thursday’s hosts have managed to find some much-needed stability over the past few weeks.
Mounting that stunning first-leg comeback away at Old Trafford seven days ago and always feeling like they could collect a heavyweight scalp on home soil, Jose Luis Mendillibar’s side certainly made a real statement here.
Punching their semi-final spot with a famous display at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, Sevilla will now be dreaming of the chance to lift a record-breaking seventh Europa League crown.
Although many neutrals might have billed Los Nervionenses as a real outside contender when opening their quarter-final adventure last week, the midweek hosts have only continued on a remarkable romp against the Red Devils.
In fact, knocking United out at the semi-final stage back on 2020, Mendillibar’s men are now unbeaten in all five of their European meetings against the Premier League giants.
Sevilla: Bono, Navas, Bade, Marco, Acuna, Fernando, Gudelj, Ocampos, Rakitic, Lamela, En-Nesyri
Subs: Suso, Telles, Gil
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Dalot, Eriksen, Casemiro, Antony, Sabitzer, Sancho, Martial
Subs: Shaw, Fred, Rashford, Weghorst, Elanga
Goals: En-Nesyri (8’, 81;), Bade (47’)
Yellow Cards: Sevilla: Bono – Manchester United: Antony, Casemiro, Shaw
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Arthur Dias
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