Champions League: United hold Sevilla 0-0, Shakhtar beat Roma 2-1
Sevilla hadn’t been held to a scoreless draw at home in 62 consecutive matches in European competitions, since 2005
The Sevilla crowd was ready to erupt when forward Luis Muriel appeared free from markers inside the area, with the ball in perfect position for his header just a few meters (yards) from the goal.
From that spot, there was surely nothing Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea could do to keep the hosts from opening the scoring.
Only, there was. De Gea came up with a spectacular one-handed reflex stop, quickly stretching out his right arm to parry the ball over the crossbar and stun both Muriel and the local fans.
It was the highlight of another solid performance by De Gea, and it helped United hold Sevilla to a 0-0 draw in their first-leg match in the last 16 of the Champions League on Thursday.
“It was in the last minute of the first half so it was an important moment of the game," De Gea said. "I made a save and I'm happy for that.”
Muriel had nobody close to him when he jumped near the six-yard line but his firm header wasn't placed far enough from De Gea and the goalkeeper made him pay.
In disbelief, the Colombian forward embraced the left post and closed his eyes for a few moments.
A few moments before Muriel's header, De Gea had already been forced to tip a header by Steven N'Zonzi over the crossbar. He also stopped a long-range shot by Muriel by making a difficult diving save close the ground.
The scoreless result left the tie open heading into next month's second leg in Manchester, when Sevilla will be trying to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time and United will look to return to the last eight after three seasons.
It was another solid defensive performance by United, which has kept nine clean sheets in its last 11 matches in all competitions. Jose Mourinho's team has the best defense in the Premier League with 19 goals conceded in 27 matches.
I think the only moment where we felt relieved was in the last couple of minutes in the first half where (we had) a couple of mistakes in possession and they had a couple of good situations with two David great saves. We have one match to decide everything at Old Trafford.Jose Mourinho, Manager, Manchester United
Sevilla, a five-time Europa League winner, hadn't been held to a scoreless draw at its Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in 62 consecutive matches in European competitions, dating back to 2005. De Gea became the first visiting goalkeeper to keep Sevilla from scoring in a Champions League match at Sanchez-Pizjuan.
Mourinho raised some eyebrows by leaving Paul Pogba on the bench but had to bring the midfielder on less than 20 minutes into the match because of an injury to Ander Herrera.
Shakhtar Comes From Behind to Beat Roma 2-1
In the night's other game, Shakhtar Donetsk came from a goal down to beat Roma 2-1 after midfielder Fred netted the winner with a perfect free kick in the 71st minute.
Cengiz Under continued his fine run of form by giving Roma the lead shortly before halftime but Facundo Ferreyra leveled for Shakhtar shortly after the break and Fred showed why some of Europe's top clubs are reportedly after him with a perfect free kick in the 71st minute.
I seem to have seen two different Roma teams today on the pitch. After conceding the first goal I should have substituted most of them.Eusebio Di Francesco, Coach, AS Roma
“In the first half the team played to attack and then they played to manage I don't know what. For that reason I'm angry,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said.
“I can't think we were presumptuous when winning, it's not as if Roma gets to the final every year. But in the second half we were too sloppy in our passing, something which we were perfect in in the first half.”
Roma's players were similarly disappointed, with captain Daniele De Rossi admitting they “stopped playing” after Shakhtar's equalizer and the result “leaves us with a bitter taste.”
Midfielder Diego Perotti couldn't believe his team's transformation after the break.
“What happened between the first and second half? I don't know, I'm asking myself that too,” Perotti said. “Based on our first-half performance we deserved to win, and I'm very upset about the wretched second half we played. It's all our fault, there are no excuses, we're responsible.”
Roma dominated the first half but it was the Italian club's Alisson who was the busier of the two goalkeepers, especially as the match wore on.
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