2nd leg Europa League quarter-final: Sevilla favoured to see off United

Sevilla and Man­chester United will lock horns at Estadio Ramon this evening in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final, with the tie delicately poised at 2-2.

Man. United took a two-goal lead in the first leg at Old Trafford courtesy of a double from Marcel Sabitzer, but late own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire have left the teams level heading into this match.

Sevilla were second-best by a considerable distance in the opening 45 minutes against Man. United at Old Trafford last week, with Sabitzer’s brace handing the Red Devils a 2-0 lead inside the first 21 minutes, and at that stage, it appeared that the English giants would be securing a strong first-leg advantage.

Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side had other ideas, though, and they were rewarded for a much-im­proved second-half performance with two late goals, leaving the tie delicately poised heading into the second leg of the last-eight affair in Andalusia.

There is just something about Los Nervionenses and this com­petition, lifting the trophy on six occasions, which is a record, and it would certainly not be a shock to see them go all the way once again this season despite their struggles domestically in 2022-23.

Sevilla will have to win the Europa League if they are to be present in next season’s Champi­ons League, as a disappointing La Liga campaign has left them down in 13th in the table, 16 points off fourth-placed, Real Sociedad.

Mendilibar’s team have now picked up seven points from their last three league games, though, in­cluding a 2-0 success over Valencia at the weekend, and they will now be looking to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League at Man. United’s expense, which would be a huge scalp in this season’s compe­tition.

United really should have been out of sight against Sevilla before the late own goals from Malacia and Maguire, and it proved to be a damaging night in more ways than one, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane both picking up injuries, and the former’s has ruled him out for the rest of the season.

The Red Devils will still be con­fident of beating Sevilla to progress to the final four, but Erik ten Hag’s side are picking up injuries at the worst possible stage of the season.

United have had a habit of bouncing back quickly from disappointing results, though, and they were excellent in the Premier League on Sunday, recording a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest courtesy of goals from Antony and Diogo Dalot, with the result strengthening their grip on a top-four spot in the table.

The 20-time English champi­ons are now third in the division, six points ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand, while they will face Brighton & Hove Albion in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday during a defining period of the campaign.

United will not want to make a habit of competing in the Europa League, but they won the compe­tition in 2017, and they are still the favourites to lift the trophy this term despite last week’s result at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils are still waiting for their first victory over Sevilla, losing two and drawing two of their previous four meetings, including a defeat in the semi-finals of the Europa League in August 2020. –SportsMole

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