Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea added another heart-stopping save to his collection as his team held a highly impressive Sevilla side to a goalless draw away from home in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
The Spain international foiled the home side’s Colombian striker Luis Muriel from point-blank range at the end of the first half not long after tipping over an overhead kick from Argentine defender Gabriel Mercado as the Spaniards created far more chances than Jose Mourinho’s side.
United forward Romelu Lukaku spurned a rare clear opening in the first period when he punted a pass from Alexis Sanchez well over the bar and the Belgian had a goal ruled out for handball late in the second.
Mourinho’s relationship with Paul Pogba was left open to more scrutiny when the Portuguese left his record signing out of the starting line-up, although he was forced to throw on the French midfielder when Ander Herrera pulled up injured early in the game.
Pogba did not manage to answer his many recent critics, who have questioned his influence over the last two months. He was unable to engineer many attacks and sent a long, hopeful shot well wide of goal in the second half.
United’s latest star signing, Alexis Sanchez, also had a night to forget in his first European game for the club since joining from Arsenal in January as he saw little of the ball and was hauled off for Marcus Rashford in the 75th minute.
Muriel paid tribute to De Gea for denying him and said he was disappointed his side did not take their chances.
“He moved his body well, I could have hit it in the corner but I went for power over placement and he’s a great goalkeeper,” Muriel told reporters.
“When you play matches like this the key is scoring in these little chances like that, but in general the team played very well. We played exactly as you should: we were disciplined in every stage of the game but we leave here feeling a little bitter that we couldn’t score.
“When you look at this performance you have to think we can play like that at any ground, but in the second leg it’s vital we stay organised.”
That match takes place at Old Trafford on March 13.