More semi-final misery for Manchester United as Sevilla win Europa League clash

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Manchester United’s Europa League dreams went up in smoke as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men lost a third semi-final of the season despite dominating large parts of a tense clash with Sevilla.

A promising first full season in the Old Trafford hot-seat ends without silverware for the Norwegian, whose side wasted a glut of chances in Sunday’s Stadion Koln showdown and were made to pay for lax defending.

Bruno Fernandes’ spot-kick had United dreaming of the August 21 finale, only for former Liverpool man Suso to level and ex-Newcastle striker Luuk de Jong to secure Europa League kings Sevilla a 2-1 comeback win in a pulsating clash.

United’s despair was clear at the final whistle and they will be kicking themselves for a long time to come, having let this semi-final go the same way as their FA Cup and Carabao Cup campaigns.

Fernandes fired United ahead just nine minutes in from their 22nd penalty of the season but Suso levelled after catching the defence napping in a first half in which Diego Carlos could have seen red and conceded another penalty.

United made a blistering start to the second period but goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, whose penalty save was key in the quarter-final win against Wolves, made a string of superb saves to keep his side in the tie.

Sevilla v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – Stadion Koln
Impressive Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou iis pictured denying Anthony Martial (PA)

It had all started so well for Solskjaer’s side, who won an early penalty just like Wolves had in Tuesday’s quarter-final.

Carlos was again the guilty party as he ploughed into Marcus Rashford, but Fernandes, unlike against Raul Jimenez, beat Bounou with a thumping effort into the top left-hand corner.

Sevilla v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – Stadion Koln
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, second left, celebrates opening the scoring (PA)

Sevilla were being backed by a small but rowdy contingent, with United coach Michael Carrick calling for his players to keep their cool after Brandon Williams was booked.

Carlos followed him into the notebook and could count himself fortunate not to be leaving the field, having avoided an earlier yellow card for giving away the penalty.

United were frustrated by several decisions and fumed with officials after Sevilla were wrongly awarded what proved to be a costly thrown-in.  Play continued and Sergio Reguilon crossed to the far post, where Suso caught Williams napping to level in the 26th minute.

Sevilla v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – Stadion Koln
Suso levelled the scores (PA)

There were no more first-half goals but plenty of tension as Solskjaer had a pop at Julen Lopetegui as the Sevilla coach and his players continued to make the most of any contact.

United were pumped up when play resumed and should have gone ahead but Bounou single-handedly denied them.

Sevilla v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – Stadion Koln
There was frustration for Marcus Rashford, right, pictured here with Sevilla’s former Manchester City winger Jesus Navas (PA)

Rashford’s follow-up was blocked and Martial was stopped after exquisite footwork, with a flying block frustrating Fernandes.

The Sevilla shot-stopper then denied Martial in two one-on-one scenarios during a maddening and ultimately game-changing period for United.

Manchester United v FC Copenhagen – UEFA Europa League – Quarter Final – Stadion Koln
David De Gea was beaten twice in Cologne (PA)

United’s young side were now on the back foot and were caught out in the 78th minute.

Williams did not deal with Navas and the former Manchester City man swung in a cross that De Jong peeled away from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and behind Victor Lindelof to turn home.

The Sevilla camp went wild and provided vocal support throughout the closing stages, with their side digging deep to secure victory against their exhausted opponents.

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