Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho shrugged off a lack of attacking intent and declared himself satisfied after his side ground out a goalless draw against Sevilla in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash.
Sevilla lacked conviction and ruthlessness, reflected by the La Liga outfit having 25 shots without ever really threatening to overpower United, who only mustered one effort on target throughout the entire 90 minutes.
United were, however, indebted to a stunning one-handed save from goalkeeper David de Gea on the stroke of half-time, which ensured the Reds will head into the second leg at Old Trafford on 13 March the happier of the two teams.
De Gea made eight saves in total, which is the most for a United goalkeeper in a Champions League fixture since former Fulham stopper Edwin van der Sar against Barcelona in the 2011 final at Wembley.
“It’s okay. There will be a decision at Old Trafford. If we draw with a goal we are out, if we win by any result we are through,” said Mourinho, whose side have won 15 of 18 home matches this season.
“Is that difficult? Yes, that is difficult. But it is a match in our house and I believe Old Trafford misses a big European night. Of course last season we had a quarter-final and semi-final but the Europa League has a different meaning. They can push us. We just need to win.”
Sevilla entered the clash having conceded 12 goals in the group stage – the highest tally among the clubs left in the competition – but were very rarely troubled during a tame, meandering first-half.
The biggest talking point of the opening half an hour was the introduction of £89m midfielder Paul Pogba following injury to Ander Herrera. Pogba had initially been omitted, amid uncertainty over his United future and speculation of tension with Mourinho.
United’s best chance fell to striker Romelu Lukaku but he ballooned over from an Alexis Sanchez pass, while at the other end Sevilla winger Joaquin Correa twice found space but could only draw comfortable saves from De Gea.
De Gea was forced into more meaningful employment before the break as he repelled two headers, the first from former Blackburn and Stoke midfielder Steven Nzonzi, and the second, the more impressive of the two, from frontman Luis Muriel.
When they came, Sevilla’s better chances continued to be aerial opportunities and inside the final 20 minutes Muriel lifted the ball across the six-yard box, only for Pablo Sarabia to head over from close range.