A week after a draw (2-2) at Camp Nou, Manchester United beat Barcelona at Old Trafford (2-1) on Thursday evening to qualify for the knockout stages of the European League.
The big name was leaving the Europa League scene at the end of this shock with pure flavor of Champions League. And it was Barcelona, the leaders of the Spanish League, who succumbed to Manchester United, who were still fighting for the quadruple victory, after a very intense second round. Authors of a very impressive draw in the first leg (2-2), Raphael Varane’s teammates improved this result with a victory (2-1) snatched not only by talent, but also by teeth.
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Manchester players had fangs, and they planted them in Barcelona’s defence. From the third minute, Bruno Fernandes got a great chance for his team in the first half, to escape deep. But his cross shot from the right hit the wall by Ter Stegen, who saved him.
The Portugal international was unaware at the time that he would be double the unfortunate hero of this first act, whose face changed after a quarter of an hour. By fouling Balde stupidly in the area, he caused a converted penalty kick, with a hint of success, by Lewandowski, who Shot by De Gea (0-1, 18). This opener slowed MU’s momentum while laying the foundations for the Catalans’ domination of the game, as Xavi’s men gradually took control of the match, courtesy of better pressing and mastery of the game. However, Barcelona did not prove to be very dangerous until the end of the first half, with the exception of a missed kick-off by De Gea (45). Author of a crucial tackle, Casemiro sidestepped his own goalkeeper to expand the clumsy and unhappy Porters fraternity this week.
The Brazilians have opened the positionSuppressed gradually by the Blaugrana over the first half, the Mancunians resumed with Antony in place of Weghorst, ensuring extra pace and dynamism. But it was from another Brazilian, Fred, author of a sequence of control strikes on the right, that the light came, after Bruno Fernandes was late (1-1, 47). This MU galvanized equation, again very urgent and suddenly inclined to organize the search for depth behind the backs of opposing centres.
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In addition to showing his speed, Anthony showed his skill in recovering the ball from the left after two rebounds from his teammates (2-1, 73). A goal that capped the motivation and influence of more Mancunians who occupied Barcelona until the end of extra time, thanks to Varane’s exceptional save on his line (90 + 3). Old Trafford can roar with pleasure.