Barcelona, Man United dazzle in Europa League clash at Camp Nou

BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona and Manchester United performed out a pulsating clash at Camp Nou to attract 2-2 in the primary leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

United would be the happier of the 2 groups because the tie switches to Old Trafford subsequent week, regardless of at one stage main 2-1 thanks to a different Marcus Rashford aim — his eleventh of 2023 in all competitions to date — and Jules Kounde placing by means of his personal internet. After a fair first half, Marcos Alonso put Barcelona forward in the second half earlier than United’s battle again. Xavi’s crew wanted an equaliser from Raphinha to degree the tie, however they could not discover a winner throughout a frantic closing 10 minutes, setting for the draw.

All in all, the sport units up an intriguing return fixture in Manchester in per week’s time.

Rapid response

1. Tie completely poised forward of Old Trafford return leg

Man United supervisor Erik Ten Hag mentioned he was wanting ahead to taking part in Barcelona to gauge the place his crew are at and towards the very best crew in Spain this season, he could have been pleased with a lot of what he noticed. Barcelona are eight factors clear at the highest of LaLiga and have not misplaced at Camp Nou all season, however United matched Xavi’s facet for lengthy intervals.

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After a tense first half after which a chaotic second interval that included all 4 targets, the tie is completely poised for the return sport at Old Trafford subsequent week. United battled again from a aim down to steer 2-1 earlier than Barcelona equalised, and from there the guests needing a string of late, acrobatic saves from David De Gea to make sure issues remained degree after the primary leg.

Ten Hag is not completed together with his rebuild, after all, however already he is overseen wins over Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City and a creditable draw towards the crew who’re prone to be topped champions of Spain. It was a sport that had the texture of a Champions League knockout fixture — due to the pedigree of the 2 sides and the end-to-end nature of the second half — and each groups will hope it is simply that in the event that they meet once more subsequent season. The Europa League model wasn’t dangerous both, although.

2. Rashford is backing up Ten Hag’s Mbappe comparability

When Ten Hag mentioned in the course of the World Cup break that Rashford had the expertise to rival Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, it raised a number of eyebrows, however since coming back from Qatar, Rashford has been on a mission to show his supervisor proper. Not solely has Rashford scored 14 targets in 16 video games for the reason that restart, however his aim towards Barcelona confirmed once more that he is able to getting targets in the most important video games after already discovering the online towards Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City this season.

Like Mbappe, the very best gamers in the world are likely to set themselves aside by swaying video games towards the most important groups and towards Barcelona, Rashford was central to United battling again from 1-0 all the way down to 2-1 up in the house of seven second-half minutes. He first picked up Fred’s move to drill a low end previous Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his close to submit, after which burst previous Raphinha with horrifying ease earlier than sending in the cross that was become his personal internet by Jules Kounde.

There could have been Barcelona leaving Camp Nou wishing that they had Rashford in their crew and people Mbappe feedback from Ten Hag two months in the past do not appeared so far-fetched now.

3. Pedri’s harm is a priority for Xavi

Neither Barcelona or Manchester United wish to be in this competitors — the Champions League is their goal — and for Barcelona in explicit, the Europa League play-off spherical got here at a value.

Pedri was pressured off earlier than half-time with what appeared like a thigh pressure, and Xavi can solely hope it isn’t severe. The Barcelona boss was in no temper to take a threat with the 20-year-old midfielder and was signalling to his bench that he needed to make a change even earlier than medical workers had been on to evaluate the harm. It was signal that Pedri took a seat on the bench when he got here off for Sergi Roberto and did not really feel the necessity to head straight down the tunnel for remedy, however count on his standing to be intently monitored over the approaching days.

After dropping down from the Champions League to UEFA’s secondary membership competitors, Xavi picked a powerful crew towards United, however Barcelona’s focus this season is to win LaLiga for the primary time since 2019 and Pedri has been key in opening up an 11-point lead over Real Madrid at the highest of the desk.

The Spain worldwide has solely failed to begin 4 video games this season and has already made 30 appearances in all competitions. Xavi can solely hope that the harm is not severe and that Pedri is on the market to play a full position in the title run-in.

Best and worst performers

Best: David de Gea, GK, Man United

Back in Spain, De Gea made a few good saves as Barcelona pushed for a winner at the top.

Best: Marcus Rashford, FW, Man United

Scored United’s first and helped make the second to proceed his spectacular run of type.

Best: Raphinha, FW, Barcelona

The Brazilian winger obtained Barcelona’s second aim with a cross whipped in from the fitting.

Worst: Jadon Sancho, FW, Man United

He had a quiet night time and missed likelihood in the second half.

Worst: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, DF, Man United

Deserves credit score for profitable again his place in the crew however appeared uncomfortable right here, significantly in the primary half.

Worst: Jules Kounde, DF, Barcelona

The Frenchman, taking part in at full-back, had a few awkward moments and scored an personal aim from Rashford’s cross.

Highlights and notable moments

Barcelona opened the scoring through the previous Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso…

… nevertheless it did not take Man United lengthy to rally through Rashford after which the Kounde personal aim.

Ultimately, a second of sophistication from Raphinha, whose deep cross skidded by means of to beat everybody in the field and discover the online, helped Barcelona end the primary leg with honours shared.

After the match: What the managers and gamers mentioned

“I think we dictated the game, apart from maybe 15 minutes in the first half, we had some difficulties, but we were dictating the game and had so many chances. I was a little bit disappointed that at half-time it was 0-0, because we should have scored and the opportunities they had we created by ourselves. But I think it was a great game. Two attacking teams. I think it was a Champions League game, even more than that, so I really enjoyed the game… Of course I will credit Rashford definitely because he is in great form, but the whole team did well. I think it was a really good team performance.” — Manchester United supervisor Erik ten Hag, chatting with BT Sport

Up subsequent

Barcelona: Xavi’s facet have a probably light LaLiga weekend towards Cadiz, who’re simply two factors above the relegation zone, at Camp Nou on Sunday earlier than they head to Old Trafford for the Europa League last-32, second leg, towards Man United on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Man United: Ten Hag & Co. have a house date with Leicester City in the Premier League this Sunday, previous to internet hosting Barcelona on Feb. 23.

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