Manchester United blew a two-goal lead as late own goals from Harry Maguire and Tyrell Malacia handed Sevilla an unlikely lifeline and a 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final at Old Trafford.
United appeared to be striding towards the semi-finals after Marcel Sabitzer’s first-half double but a failure to underscore their dominance was ruthless punished in a remarkable finale.
Already without topscorer Marcus Rashford, the draw, which will have felt like a defeat, could have come at an even greater cost, with centre-back Raphael Varane forced off injured at half-time and Lisandro Martinez carried from the field on a stretcher in the second half.
It means United’s Europa League aspirations hinge on producing a positive result in next Thursday’s return at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan without their first-choice centre-back partnership and leading scorer.
How Man Utd threw away first-leg advantage
It was a case of no Rashford, no problem for Manchester United as they set about securing a first-leg advantage to take to Seville with an imperious attacking start which Jadon Sancho thought he had crowned with the opener inside 30 seconds, only for it to be ruled out for offside.United’s wait for the opener would only last 14 minutes, though, with Fernandes’ incisive forward pass finding Sabitzer, who finished clinically past goalkeeper Yassine Bounou after being kept onside by Marcos Acuna.
The lead was doubled seven minutes later, with Sabitzer timing another run in behind and producing another composed finish after the returning Martial’s brilliant takedown and defence-splitting pass.
Common sense prevailed on 38 minutes when former Tottenham forward Erik Lamela escaped a red card following a VAR review after a challenge on Casemiro, but the same could not be said moments later when Fernandes was harshly penalised for handball while blocking Nemanja Gudelj’s shot, picking up a booking which rules him out of the second leg.
United allowed the game to drift as the half drew to a close and were indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea, who brilliantly stopped Tanguy Nianzou’s bullet near-post header, and then defender Varane, who reacted superbly to head the rebound off the goal line before Sevilla could pounce.
It proved to be Varane’s final act with club-captain Harry Maguire replacing the injured Frenchman during the interval, though it be little to disrupt the flow of the game, with United coming within inches of adding a third when Antony’s curled effort cannoned off the inside of the Sevilla post.
Christian Eriksen, Wout Weghorst and Anthony Elanga were introduced as United fruitlessly pushed for a third that would have killed the tie off and that failure came back to haunt them when Jesus Navas capitalised on Malacia’s hesitancy to turn the ball into the United net off the Dutchman.
It galvanised the previously frustrated Spaniards, who completed their remarkable comeback in stoppage time when En-Nesyri’s effort deflected off Maguire and past De Gea. The sight of Martinez being carried down the tunnel only compounded the disastrous ending for United, who were fortunate to avoid defeat and now have a mountain to climb to progress.
Man Utd’s costly collapse – Opta stats
- Man Utd failed to win a match in major European competition in which they had a two-goal lead for the first time since a 3-3 draw with Basel in September 2011.
- Sevilla scored a 90th-minute equalising goal in a match in a major European competition for the first time since March 2021 against Borussia Dortmund.
- Manchester United were only the second English side to score two own goals in a single match in a major European competition, after Chelsea against Erik ten Hag’s Ajax in November 2019.