An impressive Sevilla FC performance wasn't enough to find a first-leg win against a tight Manchester United and a magnificent David De Gea. A result with its merit - having denied United an away-goal advantage - though a night of missed opportunities for the Nervionenses. All to play for at the Theatre of Dreams
Coming into the game, perhaps the visitors would have been disappointed to accept a 0-0 draw in Nervión but coming away, it's Sevilla FC who will be ruing missed chance after missed chance in a game dominated by the Nervionenses. With Sevilla putting in one of their best shifts of the season, it was only the gloves of Manchester United's David De Gea that prevented the hosts from going into the second-leg with an advantage. A 0-0 draw gives Sevilla a bittersweet taste in the mouth - having proven they are more than capable of hanging in the grandest stage of them all but knowing that a win was a whisker away. A goal-scoring draw at Old Trafford will see Sevilla through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Sevilla came out bravely. Knowing that United would always be dangerous on the counter, Sevilla showed nerves of steel by pushing high in the first minutes. Muriel would fire a warning shot - striking from 25-yards but seeing David De Gea make his first save of the evening. Quarter of an hour in, Mourinho was forced into a change, substituting an injured Ander Herrera for Paul Pogba. With the Frenchman on the field, United seemed to lose presence in the centre of the field - something which Sevilla took advantage of, breaking incisively to create chances. Unfortunately, there would be no avail.
Sevilla had their chances but De Gea would be the difference
The hosts would only grow as the first-half went by, clearly deserving that first goal of the game. Correa gave Valencia a tough evening and forced saves out of the Spanish keeper but it would be Mercado and Muriel's efforts - both headers - that would draw the spectacular. The first chance came from one of ten corners for Montella's side in the first-half, then Muriel would head to goal from point-blank range only to be denied by an unbelievable De Gea stop. Somehow the scores stayed level come half-time.
After the restart, Sevilla only consolidated their superiority. Though Lukaku remained dangerous at all time, Sevilla kept supply to the Belgian scarce. A Muriel shot would go close on the hour mark; minutes after, Lenglet would be denied by the United keeper. Wave after wave of attack came United's way but Sevilla just couldn't get the ball in the net. While the visitors looked for counters, Mercado and Lenglet's supreme performances kept the pressure on and kept United at bay.
As minutes passed, it started to look more and more like Sevilla wouldn't find the breakthrough they deserved. Sarabia was the next to go close, only inches away from heading Sevilla in front. Rashford and Martial would come on to give United pacey options up front, but a Jesús Navas who has taken to right-back like a duck takes to water would always be in control. With eight minutes to go, United would have the ball in the net - sending the United fans into raptures - but the strike would be ruled out owing to a handball from the Belgian.
A tired Sevilla would waiver slightly in the final fifteen and United seemed happy to leave the Sánchez-Pizjuán with a draw
As the minutes ticked away both teams seemed happy to settle for a goalless draw. With Sevilla not conceding, United leave any chance of an away-goal advantage behind. Come the 13th of March, should Sevilla manage to find that way past David De Gea, United will need to outscore the Nervionenses to stand any chance of proceeding. We will be ready in the Theatre of Dreams and with another performance like that, we'll have more than a chance to keep the Champions League dream alive.