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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Josh O'Brien

Erik ten Hag says referee influenced his tactics as Man Utd collapsed against Sevilla

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has confessed he withdrew both Bruno Fernandes and Antony early during the game against Sevilla as he had been warned they were both nearing red cards.

The Red Devils welcomed the Spanish side to Old Trafford for the first leg of the Europa League quarter final and were huge favourites to make light work of their visitors. The game started as many expected, with United enjoying plenty of dominance and it wasn't long before they were ahead.

Jadon Sancho had the ball in the back of the net inside the first 30 seconds but his effort was chalked off for offside. However, loanee Marcel Sabitzer did fire United in front in the 13th minute with a deflected strike.

Just seven minutes later, the man on loan from Bayern Munich made it two with a delightful left-footed finish to hand United a two-goal cushion. At this stage, it looked as if the Red Devils were going to have one foot in the last four long before the second-leg.

Fernandes was the first to be carded just before the interval for a handball, which rules him out of the second-leg with suspension, before Antony also went into the book for his heated exchange with Marcos Acuna after fouling the Argentine.

The last 10 minutes of the game saw United fully capitulate, with Tyrell Malacia's own goal handing Sevilla a lifeline as fear set across the faces of the Old Trafford faithful.

HAVE YOUR SAY! Will United beat Sevilla in Spain to progress to the next round? Comment below

Sevilla broke Manchester United hearts late on ((Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images))

Things were to get even worse when Youssef En-Nesyri's header deflected off of Harry Maguire to wrong-foot David de Gea and draw the LaLiga side level. By the time the ball had hit the back of the net, United were actually down to 10 men after Lisandro Martinez had to be taken off with an injury, despite the fact the hosts had made all the changes permitted.

After the game, Ten Hag looked particularly frustrated as he bemoaned to reporters how he was forced into making substitutions he wouldn't have otherwise made, partly due to a warning from the referee about those on yellow cards.

"We had to make some subs with injuries," Ten Hag complained. "Rapha [Varane] at half-time. Also Anthony Martial, we had to sub him because it was his first game after [injury] - his first start.

"Antony as well, and Bruno [Fernandes] because they were close to a second booking. So we had to make some subs and then lose control in the unlucky moment [Sevilla's first goal]."

Though morale was low at Old Trafford having surrendered a two-goal lead, Ten Hag was quick to remind everyone that the tie is by no means over just yet.

"Bruno is suspended. Rashford, is he in or out? We don't know right now but still we have a good team, we can line up a very good team in the away game.

"It is 2-2 so everything is open and we have to play our best. We know that and if we bring our performance then we are confident that we can go to the next round."

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