Europa League Knock-Out Round Play-Offs:Manchester United comeback and eliminated FC Barcelona!
Manchester United showed some nostalgia after tonight's performance against FC Barcelona. United came back from being 1-0 at halftime to scoring two goals in the second half to win the tie. Manchester United will now advance into the round of 16 in the Europa League and is the only club in the top five leagues to be in four competitions. Could a quadruple for the Red Devils be a reasonable possibility at the end of the season?
Manchester United 2-1 FC Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate)
Old Trafford was electric at the start of the game because of what the game meant for both clubs. United looks excellent in the Premier League, while Barcelona is the league leader in La Liga. Both teams drew 2-2 last week at Camp Nou, which meant all was to play for in Manchester.
United looked quick to score first after pressing the Barca team from the start of the first whistle. Bruno Fernandes had an excellent opportunity to give United the league, but he needed more composure to finish his chance. This led to a Ter Stegen save, and the score was kept 0-0.
Alejandro Balde dominated defense and attack and was a significant threat to the United backline. His impact in the game will soon produce a great opportunity for Barca as Bruno Fernandes brings him down in the box.
There was controversy over the penalty call toward Balde, but Bruno slightly grabbed onto Balde's arm, which caused him to fall into the box.
Robert Lewandowski steps up and puts the ball in the net. David De Gea did touch the ball but couldn't prevent the ball from going in. It was 1-0 for Barca in the 18th minute. Barca would become dominant on the ball and killed the United pressing with their elegant passing. Fred would give United a chance when he first time crossed a ball that ended just over the bar.
Just before halftime, United made a mess at the back with De Gea passing the ball to Sergi Roberto just outside the box. Casemiro came yp big in the clutch by blocking two Barca shots, one by Roberto and one by Kessie.
It was halftime, and Barca was leading 1-0 at Old Trafford and 3-2 on aggregate. United needed to react fast and had to make some substitutions. One of them was Antony for Weghorst.
That substitution was key for United as the Brazilian offered lots of paces and kept Barca back. United was electric again at the start of the half, but this time they were effective as they equalized.
The goal came in 2 minutes at the beginning of the second half! Bruno finds Fred in the middle, who gets past Frenkie De Jong, and shoots it at the bottom right corner. Old Trafford erupted in joy, and Barca was feeling the pressure.
The game got heated after Bruno Fernandes kicked the ball at a falling De Jong. Barca players confronted Fernandes while some United players defended the Portuguese. Bruno would receive a yellow card for the offense.
In the 64th minute, Jules Kounde headed the ball toward the goal, making De Gea pull off a great save.
Nine minutes later, Luke Shaw backheels a ball to Bruno, who muscles off Raphinha to keep an attack alive. Substitute Garanacho would have a shot blocked, as does a Fred shot after a rebound. After that shot, it would fall to Antony, who hit it perfectly into the bottom corner past Ter Stegen!
It was a beautiful goal from the Brazilian winger, and Old Trafford went wild. It was 2-1 for Manchester United, and they were closer to advancing to the next round.
United would threaten with their pacey wingers in Antony and Garnacho, but Barca was urgent for a reaction and needed a goal to keep their hopes in Europa League alive.
Barca was desperate for a goal as time was running out, but they struggled to find any goal-scoring opportunities against a solid United defense.
The referee gave 5 minutes extra, and Barca was almost out of time. In nearly the last minute of the game, Ferran Torres finds Lewandowski, who curls it past De Gea, but Varane clears it off the line! It wouldn't have counted anyway because the Barca striker was offside before Torres played the pass.
The ref blew the final whistle, and it was game over for Barcelona and a great win for Man United! United advances to the round of 16 of the Europa League and Barca is again eliminated from Europa League for two seasons in a row.
Erik Ten Hag (Manchester United manager): "We had some really good wins, but with Barcelona - eight points leader in La Liga - if you beat them, it's a big win."
Xavi Hernandez (FC Barcelona manager): "It's a pity because I think the team deserved more. It's a big frustration, a pity because we were so excited. But we were facing a great opponent."