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Match report: Manchester United 2 – 1 Barcelona (4-3)

by Zoe Hodges

Manchester United are through to the last 16 of the Europa League after knocking Barcelona out.

The noise at Old Trafford was deafening as the match got underway.

Fernandes had the first chance inside three minutes. He timed his run perfectly and hurtled towards goal but the keeper made himself big and made the save.

After a good press from United, they won the ball back in the attacking half. Rashford was clearly fouled again on the edge of the box, just like last week but the referee waved play on. Rashford was incredulous!

Barcelona won a free kick up the other end but it was cut out easily by the Reds defence.

In the fifteenth minute, Barcelona burst into United’s box and it was deemed that Fernandes pulled the player by the arm and the ref pointed to the spot. It was a very soft penalty.

De Gea got a hand to Lewandowski’s spot kick but unfortunately he couldn’t keep it out.

At the other end moments later, just outside the box, Shaw this time was clearly fouled but the referee once again ignored United’s calls for a free kick. Clearly United would have to play 12 today!

The team looked deflated as they struggled to keep the ball and generate any chances.

There was a moment in the 35th minute that had the Barca keeper worried as Fred’s ball wasn’t quite a cross and wasn’t quite a shot but the keeper had to track back as it landed on the roof of the net.

A bad mistake from De Gea just before half time almost allowed Barca to score a second but Casemiro raced back and put in a crucial block to deny them.

Whatever Eric Ten Hag said at half time to his team, it worked! A minute after the restart and United pinched the ball back in the attacking half, Sancho found Fernandes who played a precise pass into the feet of Fred, who took a touch and then shot. It came off his shin but he found the bottom corner none-the-less. Old Trafford erupted!

Antony had injected a new energy into the side too and he had a chance on goal moments later too but a good block prevented United from taking the lead.

Rashford was able to get more into this game as he switched from the left to playing through the middle.

Fred went on a brilliant run, managing to hold up possession long enough for Rashford to overlap and then he unleashed him. He danced into the box but the angle was tight for him and there was no one there as he squared it.

A free-kick was given to Barca in their defensive half but a fraction of a second after the ref blew the whistle, Fernandes booted the ball and it unfortunately hit the stricken player and a brawl erupted.

Against the run of play, Barca had a chance from a header but a superb save from De Gea pushed it over the bar for a corner.

It was United that kept applying the pressure though and eventually substitute Antony gave the hosts the lead!

A lovely back heel from Shaw kept the ball in play, Fernandes won it and found Garnacho whose shot was blocked, it rebounded to Fred, whose shot was blocked but third time lucky, it fell to Antony who curled it into the far bottom corner.

A brilliant bit of one, two football unleashed Garnacho who squared it to Rashford but it was just behind him.

Garnacho was having a great game and Barcelona couldn’t handle his pace and trickery as they resorted to dragging him down by his shoulders.

Deep into injury time and Lewandowski found himself through on goal, he chipped it past De Gea but Varane was there to clear it off the line.

That was it, the last roll of the dice for Barcelona and Old Trafford was bouncing at the final whistle!

Team: De Gea, Martinez, Shaw, Varane, Wan-Bissaka (Dalot 67), Casemiro, Fred, Fernandes, Weghorst (Antony 45), Sancho (Garnacho 67), Rashford (McTominay 88)

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