Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has slammed his players for lacking passion and that the manner of their Europa League quarter-final exit was “unacceptable”, following a 3-0 loss at Sevilla on Thursday.
Youssef En Nesyri scored twice at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium as the home side, who are struggling in 13th in the Spanish La Liga, cast aside their domestic struggles to go through 5-2 on aggregate.
United put in a listless and error-strewn performance, with goalkeeper David de Gea and defender Harry Maguire culpable for a couple of Sevilla’s goals.
Asked if Sevilla displayed more fight than his side, ten Hag said: “I have to acknowledge, it’s the truth. It’s hard, it’s tough, but it’s the truth.
“Tonight we weren’t good enough, that was obvious, that was clear.”
The Dutchman added that his side simply had to show more desire and more composure on the ball, which they failed to do so.
“When you get a setback, you have to deal with it, and carry on… It’s not about playing skills, it’s about character. So be composed and have desire and passion,” he said.
“Sevilla had more willingness to win. I think that’s unacceptable.”
The home fans created a raucous atmosphere even before kick-off, which set the tone for the game.
Once En Nesyri scored after seven minutes following a Maguire error, the visitors never looked like getting back into the game.
Loic Bade headed home early in the second half and En Nesyri added another after de Gea failed to clear the ball.
Despite Sevilla’s struggles in La Liga, in which they are still not safe from the threat of relegation, the Andalusians outfought and outplayed United, who are third in the Premier League.
The Red Devils failed to trouble Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou all night, with a Casemiro effort from distance as close as they came.
Sevilla coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said his side followed the game plan and did not allow United to get a foothold in the game.
“Our idea was to press them when they had the ball at the back, I think it went quite well, we scored the first goal robbing the ball on the edge of their box,” he said.
“I think we were superior and I think it was the merit of our players.”
The Spaniards will take on Juventus in the semi-finals, while the other last-four clash will see Roma face Bayer Leverkusen.
United were missing their first-choice centre-back pairing of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane due to injury, which led to Maguire – who has been out of favour all season – being paired alongside Victor Lindelof.
Maguire is suspended for this Sunday’s FA Cup semi-finals against Brighton & Hove Albion, and some fans may feel that is a positive because of his defensive calamities.
But left-back Luke Shaw, who will supposedly partner Lindelof at Wembley, is also a concern after being rushed back from injury in the second half and again suffering a knock.