Opposition watch: Sevilla pegged back by Celta Vigo
Manchester United’s Europa League quarter-final opponents Sevilla will arrive at Old Trafford having drawn 2-2 against Celta Vigo on Friday night.
The Spanish outfit – set to be the fourth La Liga side we face in European action this term – looked to be heading for a third win from five domestic league outings, until Celta Vigo staged a late comeback at the Ramon Sanchez Pijuan.
Sevilla finished the game with nine men, taking their tally of red cards for the season to 11, resulting in the club releasing a statement about officiating standards after the game.
Overseeing just his second game in charge, Sevilla boss Jose Luis Mendilibar – appointed last month, following Jorge Sampaoli’s sacking – made three changes from his team’s winning start to his tenure at Cadiz last weekend.
Mendilibar has an experienced squad at his disposal, with on-loan Reds defender Alex Telles, who came off the bench against Celta, at the forefront of a host of recognisable names, which includes ex-Manchester City pair Jesus Navas and Fernando, Erik Lamela - formerly of Tottenham Hotspur - and one-time Barcelona midfielder, Ivan Rakitic.
One of those coming into the side for Friday’s encounter, Pape Gueye, was dismissed after just 19 minutes for a second bookable offence. But Los Rojiblancos continued to battle well, and took the lead on the stroke of half-time through a Youssef En-Nesyri header.
Morocco international En-Nesyri is a man to watch for sure; his opening goal was his 15th of the season, and he might have extended his tally again in the second half, but on that occasion nodded wide of the near post.
Marcos Acuna scored Sevilla’s second not long afterwards, though, appearing to have won it for the home side with nine minutes remaining, as he stole possession deep in midfield and hammered a stunning effort into the bottom right corner from about 30 yards out.
Celta, though, pulled a goal back eight minutes later through Miguel Gutierrez, before Goncalo Pacienca earned the visitors a point with a stoppage-time header. Acuna was then shown a red card for his complaints, before the full-time whistle blew.
Of course, both Acuna and Gueye will remain in contention for Thursday’s trip to Old Trafford, with their domestic suspensions not affecting their participation in the Europa League.
Acuna, a World Cup winner with Argentina back in December, forms part of an intriguing selection headache for Mendilbar at left-back, where the experienced coach may also be considering Telles, who is eligible to play in M16, despite being on loan from the Reds.
Anthony Martial also spent the second half of last season out on loan with the Andalusian side, and might be eyeing a first start since his return from injury last week, when his former loan club come to town.
Rakitic was among those who dropped to the bench for the Celta clash, too, perhaps with one eye on maintaining freshness for Thursday’s clash with United.
It’s sure to be a fascinating encounter at Old Trafford, as we look to avenge for our recent European exits to the Spanish side in the 2019/20 Europa League and 2017/18 Champions League campaigns.