Champions League: David De Gea helps Man U hold Sevilla to draw

A solid performance by goalkeeper David De Gea helped Manchester United hold Sevilla to a 0-0 draw in their first-leg match in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

The hosts played well and had most of the significant scoring chances but could not get past the Spanish goalkeeper.

‘It was an important moment’

Among De Gea’s saves was a spectacular one-handed reflex stop after a close-range header by Sevilla forward Luis Muriel just before halftime.

“It was in the last minute of the first half so it was an important moment of the game,” De Gea said. “I made a save and I’m happy for that.”

The Colombian forward was in perfect position to score from just a few meters (yards) out but his firm header wasn’t placed far enough from De Gea and the goalkeeper quickly outstretched his right arm to tip the ball over the crossbar.

In disbelief, Muriel embraced the left post and closed his eyes for a few moments.

“I lament that missed chance,” Muriel said. “I could have gone for the corner but I decided to strike it harder instead of placing it. De Gea is a great goalkeeper and made a great save.”

A few moments before Muriel’s header, De Gea had already been forced to tip a header by Steven N’Zonzi over the crossbar.

The scoreless result left the tie open heading into next month’s second leg in Manchester, when Sevilla will be trying to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time and United will look to return to the last eight after three seasons.

Solid defence

It was another great defensive performance by United, which has kept nine clean sheets in its last 11 matches in all competitions. Jose Mourinho’s team has the best defence in the Premier League with 19 goals conceded in 27 matches.

Sevilla, a five-time Europa League winner, hadn’t been held to a scoreless draw at its Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in 62 consecutive matches in European competitions, dating back to 2005. De Gea became the first visiting goalkeeper to keep Sevilla from scoring in a Champions League match at Sanchez-Pizjuan.

Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella had warned ahead of the match that his strikers had to improve in front of goal because missed chances could be costly against United’s defence. He had complained about the team’s wasted chances in recent matches.

“I’m happy with the personality shown by the team but we should have scored a goal or two after creating so many chances,” he said. “But we have to be satisfied because it’s still wide open.”

In one of United’s few chances, forward Romelu Lukaku had a goal disallowed for controlling the ball with his arm before finding the net from inside the area with about 10 minutes left.

Mourinho raised some eyebrows by leaving Paul Pogba on the bench but had to bring the midfielder on less than 20 minutes into the match because of an injury to Ander Herrera.

Fred completes comeback for Shakhtar

Shakhtar Donetsk came from behind to beat Roma 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 meeting Wednesday thanks to a spectacular winner from Brazil midfielder Fred.

The 24-year-old Fred showed why some of Europe’s top clubs are reportedly after him with a perfect free kick in the 71st minute.

“I seem to have seen two different Roma teams today on the pitch. After conceding the first goal I should have substituted most of them,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. “In the first half the team played to attack and then they played to manage I don’t know what. For that reason I’m angry.

“I can’t think we were presumptuous when winning, it’s not as if Roma gets to the final every year. But in the second half we were too sloppy in our passing, something which we were perfect in in the first half.”

Facundo Ferreyra had levelled for the Ukrainian club early in the second half after Cengiz Under continued his fine run of form by giving Roma the lead shortly before halftime.

Roma dominated the first half but it was the Italian club’s Alisson who was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Shakhtar is playing its home matches in Kharkiv, as the stadium in Donetsk was damaged by the conflict in Ukraine.

Close match early

There were early chances for both sides with Roma going the closest but Edin Dzeko saw his attempt parried from close range by Andriy Pyatov, who then did well to kick away the ball.

Roma started to take control and took a deserved lead four minutes from halftime. Dzeko put in a perfectly-weighted pass to Under, whose finish bounced off Pyatov and into the far side of the net.

It was the 20-year-old Turkey winger’s fifth goal in four matches and the perfect way to mark his Champions League debut.

Shakhtar defender Serhiy Kryvstov was then taken off on a stretcher before the break with a badly sprained ankle and had to be replaced by Ivan Ordets.

However, the home side levelled six minutes after the interval thanks to a mistake from Alessandro Florenzi, who had started the match despite a flu bug.

The Roma midfielder missed Yaroslav Rakitskiy’s through ball, allowing Ferreyra to latch onto it and run around Manolas to fire past Alisson.

Alisson pulled off a number of good stops, including a brilliant save to fingertip Taison’s effort away, but could do nothing to prevent Fred’s 20-yard free kick from going into the top right corner.

Shakhtar almost extended its lead in stoppage time but Bruno Peres did well to clear Ferreyra’s effort off the line.

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