Europa League kings Sevilla on Thursday dashed Manchester United’s hopes of a cup treble in a dominant 3-0 win that again exposed the English Premier League team’s frailty in temperament which was laid bare in the first-leg meltdown at Old Trafford last week.
In the raucous atmosphere of the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville, United conceded an early goal through a horrible misjudgment by Harry Maguire and David De Gea and never recovered.
United manager Erik ten Hag said his players lacked the passion to win.
“It’s not about playing skills. It is about character, desire and passion. They had more willingness to win. It’s unacceptable,” the Dutchman said.
“When you make such mistakes it’s difficult to win a football game,” he added. “Tonight (Thursday) we weren’t ready for the game and that cannot be. This is a great occasion and opportunity to win something and we gave it away. We have to blame ourselves.”
Truth be told, United squandered their grip on the quarter finals in the first leg itself. They had dominated the game for much of the first 75-odd minutes and should have scored more than the two they pumped in. But in an inexplicable meltdown, they let their Spanish opponents climb off the precipice with two late own goals.
The loss will hurt United, especially after having previously beaten Barcelona in the run-up to the quarter finals.
It took only eight minutes for Sevilla, who played with all the savvy of a team that has won this competition six times, to open the scoring after De Gea delivered a hospital pass to Maguire who was challenged by Erik Lamela and Youssef En Nesyri scooped up the loose ball to net from close range.
Sevilla wasted several chances and Lucas Ocampos had a goal ruled out by VAR due to offside in the build-up shortly before half time.
Ten Hag brought on Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw as half-time substitutes but straight after the interval Sevilla defender Loic Bade scored with a towering header from a corner which went in off the crossbar.
En Nesyri wrapped up the win in the 81st minute after yet another De Gea howler. The United goalkeeper was enticed by a long ball to come out of his area.
He made a mess of it, mis-kicking the ball a few metres to his right and allowing the Morocco striker to strike it over his head.
“I have never seen an atmosphere like this in my entire life,” En Nesyri told Movistar Plus with his side scenting a seventh title.
Written with inputs from Reuters, AP/PTI
Juve, Roma in semis
Rome: Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini scored in extra-time to earn hosts AS Roma a spot in the Europa League semi-finals after defeating Dutch side Feyenoord 4-1 on Thursday for a 4-2 aggregate win.
El Shaarawy converted a cross from Tammy Abraham after 101 minutes and captain Pellegrini sealed the win seven minutes later when he slotted in a rebound from an Abraham shot.
Roma will meet Bayer Leverkusen in the semi-finals after the German side knocked out Union Saint-Gilloise 5-2 on aggregate.
Juventus drew 1-1 with Sporting to win their match 2-1 on aggregate and set up a semi-final clash with Sevilla.
Adrien Rabiot took the lead for Juventus. Sporting's Marcus Edwards equalised from the spot.