Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea added another heart-stopping save to his collection as his team held a highly-impressive Sevilla side to a 0-0 draw away from home in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
The Spain international foiled Colombian striker Luis Muriel from point-blank range at the end of the first half not long after tipping over an overhead kick from Argentine defender Gabriel Mercado as the Spaniards created far more chances than Jose Mourinho’s side.
United forward Romelu Lukaku spurned a rare clear opening in the first period when he punted a pass from Alexis Sanchez well over the bar and the Belgian had a goal ruled out for handball late in the second.
Sevilla fired 25 shots at De Gea’s goal while United only had six attempts, only one of which was on target. United coach Jose Mourinho, however, said he did not feel his side had been fortunate to leave Spain with the tie still wide open.
“The stats are what they are. Sometimes you have 15 shots, but 13 of them were what I call statistic shots. So I really feel the result reflects what the game was like. If you ask me is it a good result, I say it is not good, it is not bad.”
The second leg takes place at Old Trafford on March 13, where United will be looking to reach the last eight of the competition for the first time since 2014, with Sevilla hoping finally to get past the last-16 barrier they have failed to overcome in three previous attempts.
Mourinho’s relationship with Paul Pogba was left open to more scrutiny when the Portuguese left his record signing out of the starting lineup, although he threw on the France midfielder when Ander Herrera pulled up injured early in the game.
Pogba did not manage to answer his many recent critics, who have questioned his influence over the last two months. He was unable to engineer many attacks and sent a long, hopeful shot well wide of goal in the second half.
United’s latest high-profile signing, Alexis Sanchez, also had a night to forget in his first European game for the club since joining from Arsenal in January as he saw little of the ball and was hauled off for Marcus Rashford in the 75th minute.
“He moved his body well, I could have hit it in the corner but I went for power over placement and he’s a great goalkeeper,” Muriel said.
“When you play matches like this the key is scoring in these little chances like that, but in general the team played very well. We played exactly as you should: we were disciplined in every stage of the game but we leave here feeling a little bitter that we couldn’t score."
Shakhtar's South Americans too strong for Roma
Shakhtar Donetsk’s South American blend proved too strong for AS Roma as goals from Facundo Ferreyra and Fred gave them a 2-1 win in a Champions League tie played in freezing conditions on Wednesday.
The Serie A team appeared to be coasting in the round-of-16 first-leg tie when Cengiz Under put them ahead with his fifth goal in four games four minutes before halftime.
Yet as the temperature dipped towards minus-nine Celsius, Argentine striker Ferreyra took advantage of poor Roma defending to score with an expertly-taken goal in the 52nd minute.
That turned the game on its head and it was no surprise when Brazilian midfielder Fred curled in a free kick off the underside of the crossbar to stun the visitors in the 71st minute.
Shakhtar, the first team to beat English Premier League leaders Manchester City this season, began with six South American-born players in their lineup, though one of them, Marlos, now plays for Ukraine.
The Pitmen, playing only their second competitive game since a two-month winter break, were on the back foot in the first half and goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov made a double save from Edin Dzeko and Federico Fazio from one of several Roma corners.
Dzeko wasted another attack with a tame shot at Pyatov but made amends by setting up Roma’s goal in the 41st minute.
The Bosnian threaded a clever ball inside Ismaily to Under and, although Pyatov got a hand to the Turk’s shot, he could not prevent it ending up in the net.
The Italian side looked comfortable after the break, as well, but the game turned in the 52nd minute when Shakhtar scored out of the blue.
Yaroslav Rakitskiy played a long ball out of defence which Alessandro Florenzi lunged at but failed to cut out, allowing Ferrerya to break away.
The Argentine took his chance with aplomb, cutting inside Kostas Manolas to slot the ball past Roma keeper Alisson.
Shakhtar took control and Alisson made superb saves from Marlos and Taison before he was beaten by a brilliant free kick from fellow Brazilian Fred, who sent a looping shot over the wall and in off the crossbar.
Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco was furious at his team’s second-half display.
“We committed too many schoolboy errors from players who are very experienced,” he said. “My team lacks the ability to maintain momentum and perform when they get into difficulties.”