Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona

Manchester United came from behind to beat Barcelona 2-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate to win the Europa League play-offs at Old Trafford.

Robert Lewandowski’s early penalty had left Erik ten Hag’s side to do but his half-time substitution changed the game with second-half goals from Fred and substitute Antony enough to see United through to the last 16 at their expense Xavi’s Barca.

It was a comeback that didn’t seem likely at half-time, but instead made it a night to remember, a huge moment for Antony and his improved Ten Hag squad. They go into Sunday’s Carabao Cup final and continue to chase glory in four different competitions.

Player Ratings

Manchester United: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (7), Varane (7), Martinez (8), Shaw (7), Casemiro (7), Fred (7), Fernandez (7), Wegorst (5), Sancho ( 6), Rashford (7).

Subs: Antony (7), Dalot (7), Garnacho (7), McTominay (n/a).

Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), Kounde (6), Araujo (6), Christensen (6), Balde (7), De Jong (7), Busquets (7), Kessie (6), Raphinha (5), Roberto (5 ). ), Lewandowski (6).

Subs: Torres (6), Fati (6), Alonso (6).

Player of the Match: Lisandro Martinez.

How Man Utd overturned the tie

The atmosphere was buzzing before kick-off, that sense of potential for a chance to enjoy against other European heavyweights. But for all the excitement, for all the noise inside Old Trafford, it was Barcelona who struck first.

Bruno had the opening chance of the game, found himself free on the right, but could only fire his shot at the feet of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal. But that was a minor setback compared to the costly mistake that was to follow at the other end.

Alejandro Balde missed a goal in the corner of the penalty area when the United captain pulled him by the arm. It was silly and although David de Gea got a touch on Lewandowski’s penalty, he could only poke the ball into the top corner of the net.

Team news

  • Erik ten Hag made one change from last week’s first leg in Barcelona. Tyrell Malacia dropped to the bench, with Lisandro Martinez coming into defence.
  • Barcelona made four changes from last Thursday’s draw. Marcos Alonso dropped to the bench alongside Jordi Alba, while Gavi and Pedri missed out through injury.

Marcus Rashford, coming into this having scored 16 goals in 17 games since the World Cup, looked menacing and Old Trafford were raucous whenever they had the ball. But just up front, Barcelona gained a measure of control through Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.

The 2-2 draw at Camp Nou a week ago had ebbed and flowed, showing the strengths and weaknesses of both teams. But there was opposition for 45 minutes this time. Ter Stegen appeared calm. De Gea’s strike almost gave Barcelona a second goal.

“We have already improved a lot as a team and the next stage is to beat teams like Barcelona,” Raphael Varane had said before the game. The onus was on Erik ten Hag, fresh from his midweek lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson, to find a solution to the problem.

The United boss did so by withdrawing the ineffective Wat Wegorst, retooling his forward line with the introduction of Anthony. The reward was instant, Fernandes squared for Fred and the Brazilian fired past Ter Stegen with his weaker right foot.

Manchester United's Fred celebrates with his teammates after scoring against Barcelona
Manchester United’s Fred celebrates with his teammates after scoring

De Gea still had to save superbly to deny Jules Kounde at the other end, but the momentum was with United and they took the lead in the tie soon after. Good work from Luke Shaw and Fernandes in the corner eventually led to Antony’s complex finish in the corner.

Old Trafford erupted in joy, the moment they’d been waiting for – the team they’d been waiting for. Barca boss Xavi tried to turn the tie around from the bench but – even with Rashford off – he was unable to replicate Ten Haag’s feat. The Dutchman’s revival of the famous club continues.

Marcus Rashford leaves the pitch
Marcus Rashford leaves the pitch

Analysis: The change of half wins it

Manchester United have scored 19 goals from substitutes in all competitions this season, the most of any team in Europe’s top five leagues. Antony’s will go down as one of the most important and it came after a crucial change from Ten Hag at the interval.

Weghorst has started all 11 games since signing for United last month and is a clear favorite with his compatriot. But Ten Haag is ruthless enough to recognize when something isn’t working and his quick switch at half-time helped his side turn this tie around.

Fernandes crossed the middle, Jadon Sancho returned to the left. Rashford went forward and threatened back. Antonis played on the right. It worked. Fernandes set up the equalizer having wandered down the left. Antonis scored the winner.

Ten Haag felt short of options for much of his time in charge. No doubt he will want more next season. But he has already shown that he is capable of identifying what is required in a game and finding the solution. He made the difference against Barcelona.

Ten Haag: “My biggest win at United”

When asked on BT Sport on whether this is his biggest win as Manchester United manager: “I think so, yes. We’ve had some good wins – Liverpool and Arsenal at home.

“In two games, against Barcelona, ​​leaders in La Liga, eight points ahead of Real Madrid. We’ve all seen Real Madrid this week. So if you can beat them, then yes, that’s my biggest win. “

Rashford’s streak ends

Marcus Rashford had scored in his previous five matches, following another recent run of seven consecutive matches, but could not find the back of the net this time against Barcelona. The England forward left the field late to be replaced by Scott McTominay.

Xavi: “Small details make the difference”

Asked at the press conference when he thought Barcelona would be able to compete for major European trophies again, Xavi said: “I hope next season. We fought well. In the end we lost, but it was really different from last season.

“Last season, it was impossible to compete. This season was different. We competed well, but the little details make the difference. We have to learn from our mistakes and be ready for next season.”

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Jonathan Liew and John Cross reflect on Manchester United’s win over Barcelona

Statistically Man Utd’s win

  • Manchester United beat Barcelona for the first time since April 2008, ending a five-game winless streak against the Spanish side.
  • Barcelona had gone unbeaten in 37 consecutive games in which they had led at the break before this result.
  • Only Marcus Rashford (17) has scored more goals for Manchester United at Old Trafford this season than Fred (5).

What’s next?

Manchester United They now turn their attention to Wembley, where they take over Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, live Sky Sports; start 4.30 pm Erik ten Hag’s side then host West Ham in the FA Cup on Wednesday. start 19.45.

Sunday 26 February 15:00

Start 16:30

Barcelona return to LaLiga action on Sunday at Almeria; start 5.30 pm The league leaders then travel to tough opponents Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Thursday. starting time 8 p.m.

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