As Sevilla stun Man United 2-1 in Europa League semi-final tie
BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – Former Nigerian international, Odion Ighalo’s dream of a silverware in the shirt of his darling Manchester United finally ended on Sunday night with the Club’s painful exit from this year’s Europa League competition.
No thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s decision to always dump United’s Cup goalkeeper, Sergio Romero for David de Gea, the former Watford striker will be departing the Theatre of Dreams without any winners’ medal to show for his impressive loan stint from Chinese club, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.
Also, the Norwegian will rue his penchant for making late substitutions in critical matches as Dutch striker Luuk de Jong came off the bench to end United’s dreams in Cologne, Germany.
It was Jong’s deft delivery that fired Sevilla into another Europa League final as the LaLiga side won 2-1 to shatter the Old Trafford faithful’s hopes of caressing a trophy this season.
Winners of this competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Sevilla took another stride towards Cup glory after resisting heavy pressure from United in this semi-final encounter.
United went ahead with a Bruno Fernandes penalty, but former Liverpool fringe player Suso levelled up things for Sevilla.
And De Jong connected sweetly with a cross swung over by Jesus Navas in the 78th minute to send Julen Lopetegui’s side through to Friday’s final showpiece.
United took a ninth-minute lead when Fernandes showed a familiar swagger in driving his penalty past Yassine Bounou, after a shabby challenge from Diego Carlos on Marcus Rashford.
But the Spanish side did not wait too long for their equaliser. It came in the 26th minute, with Suso driving past David de Gea after left-back Sergio Reguilon broke forward and crossed low and out of reach of United’s defenders.
Anthony Martial, Rashford, Fernandes and Mason Greenwood all had great openings for United, who dominated large parts of the game but could not put away a goal in open play.
Bounou was outstanding, and there were concerns for United when Sevilla asked for a penalty as a free-kick from Joan Jordan hit Fernandes on the elbow.
Sevilla were out of luck then but the winner soon arrived, with United’s defenders switching off.
De Jong was a Premier League flop during a short spell at Newcastle United six years ago, and he was only a substitute on this occasion after a goal drought.
But he turned Sevilla hero, half-volleying home the precise delivery from former Manchester City winger Navas. – With Goal.com reports