Europa League: Brazilian magic ensures Manchester United knock out Barcelona

Manchester United came from behind to defeat Barcelona 2-1 in the 2nd leg of Europa League play-off at Old Trafford
Manchester United defeated Barcelona 2-1 in the Europa League
Manchester United defeated Barcelona 2-1 in the Europa League

(Football news) An early penalty goal by Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski in the 18th minute gave Manchester United yet another slow start at Old Trafford in what was a must win game for either side to keep their European ambitions alive. However, the tide turned in the second half as Fred (47th minute) and Antony (73rd minute) gave the hosts enough to go through into the Round of 16 of the Europa League. The result means that Manchester United can go into Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Newcastle United with high spirits as they look to get their first silverware of the season.

In team news, Erik ten Hag made one change with Tyrell Malacia dropping out for Raphael Varane while Xavi made four changes for Barcelona as Marcos Alonso dropped to the bench alongside Jordi Alba, while Gavi and Pedri missed out through injury. The match was a heavyweight contest between two big clubs who have lost their way in recent years.

To put matters into perspective, it was just 12 years ago that the two sides were in the Champions League final at the Wembley Stadium and now they were competing for a place in the Europa League. However, both Xavi and Erik ten Hag have done a good job in their roles so far and both teams look to have made significant progress this season.

Speaking after the match, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said “I think so, yes. We have had some good wins – Liverpool and Arsenal at home. Over two legs, against Barcelona, leaders in La Liga, eight points ahead of Real Madrid. We have all seen Real Madrid this week. So if you can beat them, then yes, this is my biggest win.”

Barcelona manager Xavi sad “Hopefully, next season. We competed well. At 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 small details make the difference. We have to learn from our mistakes and be ready for next season.”

Also read: Madrid Derby preview: why you just can’t miss Real Madrid vs Atlético de Madrid this weekend!


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