Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho defended his tactics and the ponderous and lethargic performance of his side after they were dumped out of the Champions League following a shock defeat to Sevilla.
United followed fellow Premier League outfit Tottenham in crashing out of the competition as second-half substitute Wissam Ben Yedder proved the match-winner with a double strike, as Romelu Lukaku netted what proved a mere consolation.
Defeat means that United’s season boils down to the FA Cup – the Old Trafford club host Brighton in the quarter-finals on Saturday – and attempting to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing in the top four.
“I don’t think the performance was bad. I did my best, the players did their best. We tried, we lost and that’s football,” said Mourinho.
“The way we started was positive. Sevilla has a good team and can hide the ball in midfield. They tried to do it and did it for the majority of the time in the first-half. It was a good controlled performance from them without any danger.
“We had chances to score and again in the second-half we had chances but the first goal would always change the direction of the game.”
United entered the clash having won just one of their past eight Champions League knockout games and there was very little attacking intent during an abject first-half.
The best opportunity arrived on 38 minutes when Marouane Fellaini exchanged passes with Alexis Sanchez and fired an effort towards goal which was palmed behind by Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
United were indebted to a perfectly-timed sliding challenge from Eric Bailly to deny Sevilla forward Joaquin Correa as he encroached on the home side’s goal moments into the second period, although it was a sign of things to come.
Sevilla had never previously progressed beyond the last-16 stage of the Champions League but surged into a shock 74th-minute lead as Ben Yedder collected a pass from Pablo Sarabia and skillfully fired beyond David de Gea.
Sevilla doubled their lead and all but ended the tie four minutes later as Ben Yedder’s header at the far post, following a Correa flick, sneaked over the line despite the best efforts of a scrambling De Gea.
United gave themselves a glimmer of hope inside the final 10 minutes as Lukaku lashed home a Marcus Rashford corner but there was no way back as Sevilla claimed their first victory on English soil in Europe.