Erik ten Hag is sweating on the fitness of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane after a comfortable Europa League quarter-final clash ended in a chaotic, and potentially costly, draw with Sevilla.
Marcel Sabitzer’s first-half brace put the Red Devils in control at a packed Old Trafford, where Antony hit the woodwork after the break as they pushed to deservedly extend their lead.
Much-changed Sevilla had created little in response but a Tyrell Malacia own goal in the 84th minute provided a lifeline, with a serious-looking injury to Martinez quickly compounding matters.
Six-time Europa League winners Sevilla capitalised and Youssef En-Nesyri’s stoppage-time header ricocheted in off of Varane’s replacement Harry Maguire as the first leg ended 2-2.
“I had to make (the changes) – there was no other way,” United boss Ten Hag said.
“Then Bruno (Fernandes), I got the warning from the ref he was short before the second booking and the same with Antony dos Santos, so I had to make the subs. I had no other choice.
“But, still, we controlled the game, still we had to score the third goal.
“Then I think in the last 10 minutes of the game everything was against us, also we have to be more smart.
“We switch off, of course, with the first goal, then we get an injury of Licha [Lisandro Martinez].
The abolishment of away goals in European competition means Thursday’s draw is not as costly as it could have been, although this match could have wider ramifications on United’s season.
Varane went off at half-time with an unspecified issue that Ten Hag said he had “complained (about) over the last couple of weeks”, before partner Martinez pulled up holding his right ankle.
Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel, fellow winter World Cup winners, carried off the distraught defender, who eventually left on a stretcher as supportive United fans chanted ‘Argentina’.
“I have spoken with him and he is OK. He is calm.”
Put to him there had been suggestions that Martinez may have hurt his Achilles, Ten Hag said: “No, it is not the area. I can’t tell of course what it is, but it was not the area of the Achilles.”
Martinez and Varane join an injury list that includes the likes of Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Alejandro Garnacho.
Key midfielder Fernandes will miss next week’s return fixture at Sevilla through suspension, with the trip to Spain coming after Sunday’s Premier League trip to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.
“I have an idea what we can play on Sunday but first we have to see tomorrow and of course talk with medical,” Ten Hag said.
“We need to see how we came out of the game. We have a plan and then we will bring a good team on pitch.”
As for Sevilla counterpart Jose Luis Mendilibar, he enjoyed a memorable first Europa League match in charge of a club he only joined three weeks ago.
“We were playing better in the second half, we’d managed to control them a bit more,” he said.
“But if you’d told us, at 2-0 in the first half, that we’d equalise…
“But it’s as we said at half-time: with one goal we get back in the tie and we were strong enough to keep going and to take our chances.”