A bouncing Old Trafford watched their beloved Manchester United come back from a goal down to snatch a famous 2-1 victory over La Liga leaders Barcelona in the Europa League.
The Red Devils headed to the break a goal down after Robert Lewandowski managed to squeeze in his penalty, which was awarded for a soft foul by Bruno Fernandes on Alejandro Balde.
Just like the Leicester City game at the weekend, Erik ten Hag was not pleased with the displays from quite a few of his stars and he made his feelings known and the intensity changed immediately in the second-half.
Fred transformed United in the 2nd half
One of the biggest changes was observed in Fred, who was almost anonymous in the first-half. While fans would have liked to see a substitution, the manager seems to trust the Brazilian in big games.
And the midfielder showed why as he struck the equaliser with his weaker foot and proceeded to cover every inch of grass to ensure United progressed through to the Round of 16.
Fred's game by numbers vs. Barcelona:
100% dribbles completed
81% pass accuracy
21 passes completed
Changed the tempo in the second half. 😆😆😆 pic.twitter.com/8rRMhsybEv
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 23, 2023
It was his relentless pressing and charging down which changed the game’s tempo early in the second-half.
As seen in games versus Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and the first leg at the Camp Nou, his relentless pressing quality comes in very handy against teams who like to keep hold of the ball.
He seemed to be everywhere as he kept nicking the ball off the Barca players and that showed with his 13 successful tackles in the game.
Fred’s impact on both ends of the pitch
Over the two legs, Fred made seven more tackles than any other player that played in the tie. His defensive stats were over the roof as he also made two clearances and one interception.
Higher up the pitch, he grabbed an assist in the first-leg and scored the equaliser in the second, just the kind of impact the boss would have wanted.
He also completed a 100% of his dribbles while maintaining a tidy, if not great, 81% passing accuracy as he completed 21 passes in total.
Ten Hag knows how to get the best out of Fred, who might not be the best passer, but when given the opportunity and the freedom that Casemiro provides, he can make quite the difference.