Manchester United sweat on fitness of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane



Posted Friday, April 14, 2023 by PA

Manchester United sweat on fitness of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane

Erik ten Hag is sweating on the fitness of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane after a comfortable Europa League quarter-final clash ended in a chaotic, and potentially costly, draw with Sevilla.

Marcel Sabitzer’s first-half brace put the Red Devils in control at a packed Old Trafford, where Antony hit the woodwork after the break as they pushed to deservedly extend their lead.

Much-changed Sevilla had created little in response but a Tyrell Malacia own goal in the 84th minute provided a lifeline, with a serious-looking injury to Martinez quickly compounding matters.

United had already lost fellow centre-back Varane to injury and had used all of their substitutes when the Argentina international went down, meaning they ended the game with 10 men.

Six-time Europa League winners Sevilla capitalised and Youssef En-Nesyri’s stoppage-time header ricocheted in off of Varane’s replacement Harry Maguire as the first leg ended 2-2.

“I had to make (the changes) – there was no other way,” United boss Ten Hag said.

Manchester United sweat on fitness of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane was forced off at half-time against Sevilla (Dave Thompson/PA)

“Rafa was injured and the first I had to make. Then Anthony Martial’s first start after a long period, so we had to make him on the 60.

“Then Bruno (Fernandes), I got the warning from the ref he was short before the second booking and the same with Antony dos Santos, so I had to make the subs. I had no other choice.

“But, still, we controlled the game, still we had to score the third goal.

“Then I think in the last 10 minutes of the game everything was against us, also we have to be more smart.

“We switch off, of course, with the first goal, then we get an injury of Licha [Lisandro Martinez].

“Both goals against were really unlucky goals. Two deflected. What can you do against it? Sometimes you have bad days, and you have bad luck and tonight was not our night.”

The abolishment of away goals in European competition means Thursday’s draw is not as costly as it could have been, although this match could have wider ramifications on United’s season.

Varane went off at half-time with an unspecified issue that Ten Hag said he had “complained (about) over the last couple of weeks”, before partner Martinez pulled up holding his right ankle.

Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel, fellow winter World Cup winners, carried off the distraught defender, who eventually left on a stretcher as supportive United fans chanted ‘Argentina’.

Manchester United sweat on fitness of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane
Erik ten Hag will take his time to assess Lisandro Martinez’s injury (Nick Potts/PA)

“He will not play on Sunday,” Ten Hag said. “It looks like that, but I can’t say what is the diagnosis and I prefer to wait and then we are clear and we know exactly what it is.

“I have spoken with him and he is OK. He is calm.”

Put to him there had been suggestions that Martinez may have hurt his Achilles, Ten Hag said: “No, it is not the area. I can’t tell of course what it is, but it was not the area of the Achilles.”

Martinez and Varane join an injury list that includes the likes of Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Alejandro Garnacho.

Key midfielder Fernandes will miss next week’s return fixture at Sevilla through suspension, with the trip to Spain coming after Sunday’s Premier League trip to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.

“I have an idea what we can play on Sunday but first we have to see tomorrow and of course talk with medical,” Ten Hag said.

“We need to see how we came out of the game. We have a plan and then we will bring a good team on pitch.”

As for Sevilla counterpart Jose Luis Mendilibar, he enjoyed a memorable first Europa League match in charge of a club he only joined three weeks ago.

“We were playing better in the second half, we’d managed to control them a bit more,” he said.

“But if you’d told us, at 2-0 in the first half, that we’d equalise…

“But it’s as we said at half-time: with one goal we get back in the tie and we were strong enough to keep going and to take our chances.”

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