Erik Ten Hag’s substitutions backfire for Man Utd against Sevilla as West Ham held by Gent – European hits and misses | Football News
We reflect on the main talking points from Man Utd’s dramatic 2-2 draw with Sevilla in the Europa League and West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Gent in the Europa Conference League
23:41, UK, Thursday 13 April 2023
Ten Hag’s changes backfire for Man Utd
Bruno Fernandes reacted angrily when his number came up midway through the second half at Old Trafford and his frustration was understandable. It seemed a strange call by Erik ten Hag.
The Portuguese had already been booked, ensuring he will miss next week’s second leg through suspension. So, if there was a need for him to have a rest, why not wait until then?
There seemed no real reason to withdraw him and his reaction suggests he agreed. He had been key for Manchester United – and Sevilla, although two goals down, were growing into the tie.
Without Fernandes, and without the dangerous Anthony Martial, who was taken off for Wout Weghorst at the same time, the hosts lost a huge chunk of their attacking threat, allowing the momentum to shift irreversibly in Sevilla’s favour.
There was a heavy hint of good fortune about the equaliser, with Youssef En-Nesyri’s header diverted into his own net by Harry Maguire after Tyrell Malacia’s error had led to Sevilla’s first goal, but United were not helped by their manager’s prior changes.
Ten Hag bemoaned their failure to kill the tie afterwards, but their chances of doing so would have been far higher with Fernandes and Martial on the pitch in the closing stages rather than Weghorst and a not-yet-back-up-to-speed Christian Eriksen.
Ten Hag had to think about his players’ workloads, of course. Especially in the case of the returning Martial. But in his analysis of the game in the days to come, he might admit that he acted too swiftly in making his changes.
Man Utd still haunted by calamity
For all the positivity surrounding Manchester United’s revival under Erik ten Hag, the club’s penchant for calamity continues to hamper progress and has plunged their prospects of clinching a second trophy this season into doubt.
From the capitulation at Brentford, and the Manchester derby mauling, to their humbling at Anfield, disasters of increasingly severe proportion seem to have lurked in the background throughout Ten Hag’s first season at Manchester United.
Shipping seven goals at the hands of your arch rivals at a time when United were widely fancied to beat Liverpool will take some beating, but there’s an argument the ramifications of this latest setback against Sevilla could outweigh the mere loss of bragging rights, however humiliating.
Whether it be the two late own goals from Maguire and Malacia, or the untimely injuries to Martinez and Varane, Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla will certainly have felt like a defeat and was arguably the more shocking, given how late the disaster unfolded.
With Champions League qualification potentially hingeing on winning the Europa League, the prospect of navigating the return leg in Seville without the likes of top scorer Marcus Rashford and first-choice centre-back partnership Martinez and Varane only compounded the remarkable shift in mood at a stunned Old Trafford.
The gift of Orban – but prize remains in sight for Hammers
The dulcet tones of Doris Day played over the Ghelamco Arena’s tannoy system at the final whistle. “Que sera sera…” Day may not have had the prospect of a Europa Conference League semi-final in mind, but this tie remains firmly in the balance.
Danny Ings tucked away Jarrod Bowen’s cross on the stroke of half-time – thanks in no small part to a Gent ball boy who facilitated a quickly-taken throw-in – to give West Ham the lead in the first leg of the Europa Conference League quarter-final.
But their defending let them down after the break as they allowed Gent forward Hugo Cuypers to equalise, leaving the tie finely poised heading into next week’s second leg at the London Stadium.
There was late drama with the red card for Kamil Piatkowski wiped out, and so was West Ham’s lead. Gift Orban sparkled; his audacious overhead kick which struck the crossbar would have been a fitting winner. With such grace and granite, Orban is a gift to the game and the finest of prospects.
This was pretty breathless at times and while David Moyes might not have been entirely happy with his side’s performance, this is far from a bad result away from home in the first leg of a European quarter-final.
He will have to make do without Angelo Ogbonna when the sides do it all again in a week’s time, after the Italian’s first-half booking triggered a one-match ban, but this was a sound result if not a convincing display.
There were signs of the West Ham of old, but the version that remains locked in a relegation battle reared its head. Still, the chance to seize this rare chance to deliver European silverware at Prague’s Fortuna Arena on June 7 hangs in front of them. Whatever will be, will be.
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