David De Gea made two brilliant saves in the first half as Manchester United drew 0-0 with Sevilla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday night.
United's team news involved manager Jose Mourinho leaving midfielder Paul Pogba on the bench. Meanwhile, Sevilla also denied a start to a key player, with top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder among the substitutes:
Ironically, Pogba was on after 17 minutes, when his replacement, Ander Herrera, was withdrawn with a muscle injury. The Basque midfielder had tried a backheel to Antonio Valencia in the Sevilla box.
It was a rare foray forward for the visitors during the first half. Instead, United were content to hold their shape in midfield, with Scott McTominay given a watching brief on Sevilla playmaker Ever Banega.
McTominay did not look out of place, with the 21-year-old's assurance catching the eye of Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News:
Despite their cagey approach, it was United who went close first. The chance came when Alexis Sanchez picked out Romelu Lukaku with a smart pass, but the centre-forward blazed his volley over.
Sevilla's best chance came just before the break when a deflection in the United box allowed Steven N'Zonzi to get a header in, but De Gea reacted with a superb save.
The Spain international was called into action again seconds later when he brilliantly turned away Luis Muriel's header just before the half-time whistle.
These numbers from WhoScored.com underlined how important De Gea had been:
Muriel flashed a shot wide 12 minutes into a second half slow to heat up. United remained content to sit deep in numbers and rely on the pace of Sanchez and Lukaku on the break.
It meant the onus was on the hosts to make better use of the ball than they had managed during the opening 45 minutes, something they struggled to do. Instead, Sevilla were prepared to hope for Muriel or the lively Joaquin Correa to produce some magic.
Sevilla should have been in front on 72 minutes when Muriel hung a deep cross up for Pablo Sarabia, who somehow headed over from a tight angle.
Mourinho responded to the near miss by subbing Sanchez for Marcus Rashford. Lukaku had the ball in the net inside the final 10 minutes, but the goal was correctly ruled out after the striker used his arm to control the initial pass from Pogba.
Sevilla manager Vincenzo Montella finally made a substitution with six minutes remaining, but it wasn't Ben Yedder who came off the bench. Instead, Everton loanee Sandro Ramirez replaced Muriel, meaning the La Liga side stuck with only one up top.
The changes did nothing to alter the outcome, as a sluggish game limped to a goalless finish.
United will be the happier of the two, knowing they are strong at Old Trafford, while Sevilla will likely be left to rue their overly cautious approach on the night.