David de Gea produced a stunning first-half save from Luis Muriel to ensure Manchester United returned from Sevilla with a priceless Champions League clean sheet.
The United keeper once again proved unbeatable on a night when the home side only fleetingly threatened to push him to his limit in a 0-0 draw in his native Spain.
However, Jose Mourinho’s men too produced little of note going forward and know they will have to be better if they are to win the return at Old Trafford to secure their passage to the quarter-finals.
David De Gea is incredible. What. A. Save. Donât say âAnywhere else and itâs a goal.â or âHe should score.â because nothing should detract from that save. From that range and with that power, heâs denied an almost certain goal. Just brilliant.— David Preece (@davidpreece12) February 21, 2018
As so often in the past, keeper De Gea was in the right place at the right time to keep United in the hunt. He produced saves from Steven N’Zonzi and Luis Muriel, the second of them breathtaking, in quick succession as Sevilla launched a late first-half blitz.
For all De Gea reacted brilliantly to repel Muriel’s late header as the break approached, he should never have really been given the chance to keep it out. The striker was just five yards from goal as he met a right-wing cross with a firm header, but sent it too close to the Spanish keeper when he simply had to score.
United boss Mourinho left the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium a relatively happy man knowing their fate lies in their own hands. Having opted to leave Paul Pogba out of his starting line-up, he saw him play his part in a solid, if prosaic performance after being introduced as an early substitute, but was more thrilled by the performance of youngster Scott McTominay in his three-man midfield.
Sevilla: Sergio Rico 6, Jesus Navas 7, Gabriel Mercado 7, Clement Lenglet 6, Sergio Escudero 6, Steven N’Zonzi 7, Ever Banega 7, Pablo Sarabia 7, Franco Vazquez 6, Joaquin Correa 8, Luis Muriel 7. Subs: Sandro Ramirez (for Muriel, 85) 6, Guido Pizarro (for Banega, 89) 6.
Manchester United: David de Gea 9, Antonio Valencia 6, Chris Smalling 7, Victor Lindelof 7, Ashley Young 6, Ander Herrera 6, Nemanja Matic 7, Scott McTominay 7, Juan Mata 7, Alexis Sanchez 6, Romelu Lukaku 5. Subs: Paul Pogba (for Herrera, 17) 6, Marcus Rashford (for Sanchez, 75) 6, Anthony Martial (for Mata, 80) 6.
Sevilla v Atletico Madrid, LaLiga, Sunday, February 25
Manchester United v Chelsea, Premier League, Sunday, February 25