MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – Frustrated and feeling increasingly uneasy, Manchester United fans unleashed a loud cry of “attack, attack, attack” with their team’s Champions League fate hanging in the balance against Sevilla.
It was the Spanish side who answered the call.
Within eight minutes, Sevilla had scored two goals and was heading into the quarterfinals of Europe’s top competition for the first time in 60 years.
In the biggest surprise of the last 16, Sevilla eliminated United by winning the second leg 2-1 at Old Trafford on Tuesday, thanks to two goals in the space of four minutes by substitute Wissam Ben Yedder. In the night’s other match, Roma advanced after Edin Dzeko scored early in the second half to secure a 1-0 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk, overturning a 2-1 first-leg defeat to advance on away goals.
It was a historic night for Sevilla and an embarrassing one for United, which managed only four shots on target in 180 minutes against one of the weakest defenses left in the competition.
“I don’t want to make a drama out of it,” United manager Jose Mourinho said, struggling for an explanation for his team’s feeble performance. “That’s football. It’s not the end of the world.”
United was lucky to escape from the first leg with a 0-0 draw and it always felt a dangerous score line for United.
The longer it went scoreless, the more nervy it got inside Old Trafford. The “attack, attack, attack” chant — made famous during the glory years under Alex Ferguson — came after 70 minutes, and Sevilla’s response was to throw on Ben Yedder two minutes later.
The French striker, a former international futsal player, gave the visitors a cutting edge the man he replaced — Luis Muriel — didn’t offer. Another two minutes later, he ran onto Pablo Sarabia’s precise through-ball, got half a meter on marker Eric Bailly and drove a low shot inside the post.
De Gea had no chance with that goal, but could have done more about the second. A Sevilla corner was flicked onto the back post where Ben Yedder stooped to send in a header that De Gea tried to palm over the bar but only succeeded in diverting it into his own net.
Ben Yedder moved onto eight goals in this season’s competition and he missed a chance for a hat trick as United’s defense fell apart in the latter stages. Only Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo — with 12 goals — has more.
Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for United from close range in the 84th but a late rally couldn’t prevent United slipping out of the competition in meek fashion.
“I sat in this chair twice in the Champions League,” Mourinho told reporters after the match. “I knock out Manchester United at home at Old Trafford. I sit in this chair with Porto (in 2004), Man United out. I sit in this chair with Real Madrid, Man United out. I don’t think it’s something new for the club.”
In Rome, Roma became the second Italian side to progress to the final eight after Juventus beat Tottenham last week.
Shakhtar would have advanced with a draw, but its hopes of an equalizer diminished 11 minutes from time when defender Ivan Ordets was sent off for hauling down Dzeko.
It is the first time in 11 years that two Italian teams are in the quarterfinals, with the draw taking place Friday.
“Going through and being among the strongest teams has to be a source of great pride,” Dzeko said. “I don’t have a preferred opponent: they are all strong teams, but we will play to win against anyone. We are among the eight strongest teams in Europe, it means we are strong too.”
Roma broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break as Dzeko latched on to Kevin Strootman’s ball over the top and slotted it into the bottom right corner.
That gave Roma confidence and it almost doubled its lead 10 minutes later but Dzeko fired narrowly wide.
“What I liked best is that we played like men and that’s the most important thing if we want to aspire to certain goals and dreams,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco, in his first ever Champions League campaign.