Sevilla, pundits hail de Gea’s heroics

The only reason Manchester United left the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium without a deficit to overcome in their Champions League last-16, second-leg tie in three weeks is David de Gea.

That was the sentiment from the Sevilla camp after a 0-0 first-leg draw with United yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Sevilla fired 25 shots at de Gea's goal, while United managed only one shot on target from six attempts.

Describing the Spanish custodian's performance, Sevilla winger Joaquin Correa told Spanish newspaper Marca: "He showed he is one of the best in the world, pulling off some fantastic saves.

"It's thanks to him that we did not win, he put in an excellent performance.

"We created lots of opportunities but it is difficult against United as they play on the counter-attack, so we could not leave ourselves exposed."

His manager Vincenzo Montella agreed, saying his team should have found the net at least once.

He said: "The team created enough chances to score a goal or two. I'm a bit disappointed, but we have to be happy about how the match went.

"It's all open at 0-0 and we'll see what happens in 20 days...

"De Gea? He was fabulous, I didn't see the images on TV, but he played very well."

The highlight of the 27-year-old United No. 1's performance came when he foiled Colombian striker Luis Muriel from point-blank range at the end of the first half, not long after tipping over an overhead kick from Argentine defender Gabriel Mercado.

United legend Paul Scholes called the stop from Muriel "a sensational save", his former teammate Rio Ferdinand dubbed de Gea "outright the best goalkeeper in the world", while former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard opined that "He's so good that you think, can I beat this fella?".

That might have been what Muriel was thinking when he went up to de Gea to congratulate him at half-time.

When the United and Spain goalkeeper was asked what the former Sampdoria striker said to him, he replied: "He said it was a great save. But the most important thing is the result, we don't concede, so now the result is open."