Awful Man United dumped out of Europe
Everyone is well aware at this point that humdrum football is an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s mystique, but, wow, those first 74 minutes is time none of us will ever get back.
Incidentally, Manchester United players didn’t seem particularly interested in living life to the full during that period themselves. It took two strikes from Wissam Ben Yedder to sting them into resembling anything close to professional athletes. By then it was too late.
It was always going to be a precarious affair after the Red Devils left Spain three weeks ago with nothing but a stalemate - failing to procure the holy away goal. Still, few would have put a healthy stake on their opponents conquering Old Trafford and reaching the quarterfinals. Sevilla, while three-time Europa League champions, have never won an away Champions League game.
All appeared to be going to script for the first 20-odd minutes. Red flurries banged on Spanish doors, passing the ball neatly around the final third while snuffing out any counter possession.
Romelu Lukaku, until recently chastised for his first touch and build-up play, demonstrated plenty of hustle and bustle up front. In the second minute, in particular, he beautifully bullied Simon Kjær to create space from the left-hand side to cut in, play a one-two off Jesse Lingaard before blazing over the bar with his weaker right foot.
Closer to the break, Sevilla were gifted a fair share of half chances by lackadaisical play - one a stray pass from the all-of-a-sudden-shaky Eric Bailly. Naturally, they reciprocated the gift and duly wasted them all.
Éver Banega attempted to join the party with a long-range belter in the 35th minute and what a fine fly-half audition it was.
At halftime, Tim Sherwood waved his hands about and told us we can use one of those to count the number of entertaining United games this season. But, he said, they get the job done.
Marouane Fellaini and his replacement Paul Pogba attempted to prove his theory correct but ultimately failed to beat Sergio Rico with tame shots. The Spaniards, for their part, weren’t offering anything significant in reply.
Enter Ben Yedder. Only two minutes after coming on he drove at the home defence before nudging the ball to his right and unleashing a low shot that slotted neatly beaten David de Gea and his left-hand post.
Mourinho barely had time to contemplate the enormity of the task in front of him before Joaquin Correa flicked on a corner for Ben Yedder to grab his brace with a clever header.
Game. Set. Match.
Lukaku still had time to get himself a consolation goal but there was never a sense we could have an Old Trafford miracle on our hands.
Manchester United out of the Champions League, but it will likely be the manner they exited that hurts the most.