David de Gea produced a string of fine saves to help a lacklustre Manchester United hold Sevilla to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Seville.
The early introduction of Paul Pogba, who replaced the injured Ander Herrera, had little influence as Sevilla dominated for large swathes of the opening period, but the hosts were denied time and again by the brilliance of De Gea.
There was more of the same after the break, but this time it was wayward finishing that denied the La Liga side, with Pablo Sarabia missing the most gilt-edged opportunity from close range.
Romelu Lukaku did have the ball in the back of the net in the second half, but it was ruled out for handball as United continued their wretched record against Spanish sides, having scored just seven goals in their last 15 Champions League encounters against Spanish opposition.
Buoyed by a boisterous home crowd, Sevilla started on the front foot, with Luis Muriel forcing De Gea into a smart stop from a low, fizzing effort from 25 yards.
Then, after being left on the bench once again by Jose Mourinho, Pogba made an appearance 18 minutes in as Herrera had to be withdrawn with an injury, with the France international deployed in his favoured role on the left of a midfield three.
United’s best chance of the first half came in the 24th minute, as Alexis Sanchez picked out Lukaku, but the Belgian fired over from a good position.
Joaquin Correa then tested De Gea down to his left, before the Spain international produced his best stops of the match right at the end of the half to first deny Steven N’Zonzi, before he then brilliantly tipped Muriel’s goal-bounder header over the top to stun the masses in the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
The second half was more scrappy as Sevilla elected to shoot from distance all too often, without really troubling De Gea enough.
Muriel clipped a cross onto the head of Sarabia in the 73rd minute, but the Sevilla forward could not find the target from a few yards out.
The Manchester United fans thought they had snatched a winner seven minutes from time, but Lukaku was adjudged to have handled as he found the net inside the box. A win would have been unfair on the home side, who, but for De Gea, would have taken a healthy lead to Manchester for the second leg.
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