Sevilla 2-1 Manchester United
Manchester United will be left to rue a string of missed chances as they were beaten 2-1 by Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were hoping it would be third time lucky in a semi-final after being knocked out in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup last four earlier this season, but a lack of cutting edge and defensive errors cost them once again.
They made the ideal start though when Bruno Fernandes (9) converted from the spot after Marcus Rashford was fouled by Diego Carlos. But former Liverpool winger Suso (27) levelled things up with a tap-in during an entertaining first half.
United had a string of chances after the break to re-take the lead – Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Fernandes and Rashford all going close – but paid for these misses when Luuk de Jong (78) tapped home late on after some poor defending from Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Five-time Europa League winners Sevilla will face either Inter Milan or Shakhtar Donetsk in Friday’s final in Cologne while Manchester United once again fall just short.
It was a strong start from United as they looked to produce a better performance than their edgy quarter-final win against FC Copenhagen and were awarded a penalty inside seven minutes.
It was a superb bit of play too as a cheeky heeled pass from Martial picked out Rashford down the left of the area, with the latter’s shot saved well by Yassine Bounou. However, just after the ball left his foot, Rashford was chopped down by Carlos, sending him sliding off the field in some real pain.
As Fernandes chased down the loose ball, the referee blew for a penalty which the Portuguese lined up, albeit with a short delay so Rashford could be seen by the medical team. Once he took it though, it was a cool dispatch past Bounou.
Going behind seemed to spark Sevilla into life after a nervous start, but against the run of play, United could have doubled their lead in the 14th minute.
Fred initially won the ball back before sending Fernandes away on a driving run. The midfielder then slipped the ball back to Fred, who had acres of space ahead of him, but his run left him on a tight angle and he could only fire into the side of the net. Shortly after, Lucas Ocampos forced a strong punch from David de Gea at the near post as Sevilla edged towards an equaliser.
And the goal came in the 26th minute after a wonderful team move. Ocampos played a superb forward pass into the path of Regulion, who then sent a fizzing cross through the area. Suso was waiting at the back post as Brandon Williams scrambled to get back before tapping into the back of the net.
United will feel slightly aggrieved at the equaliser though as they should have been awarded the throw-in that began the passage of play. However, with VAR unable to go back that far for a goal, it was not reviewed or ruled out.
As with the first half, United came bursting out of the traps after the break and the scores were only kept level by some superb Bounou saves and blocks. Inside two minutes, Greenwood sent his effort straight at the goalkeeper before Martial, Rashford and Fernandes saw a series of shots saved or blocked by the Sevilla defence.
Martial was twice denied by Bounou not long after, his first shot saved by the legs of the goalkeeper. His second looked to be an easy chip over the Sevilla stopper but Bounou was there was again to deny the Frenchman as Manchester United wasted yet another chance.
United continued to see the better of the play and restricted their opponents to few attacking moves, but were made to pay for their early missed chances – as well as some woeful defending – when De Jong fired Sevilla into the final. Former Manchester City man Jesus Navas whipped in a cross from the right, with De Jong lurking in between Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka. The full-back in particular stopped moving entirely as the striker tapped the winner home.
It prompted an angry confrontation between Lindelof and Fernandes in the aftermath as United crashed out of another semi-final while Sevilla have reach their sixth Europa League final – two more than any other side in the competition’s history.