Manchester United drew 2-2 with Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the UEFA Europa League play off first leg. Marcus Alonso opened the scoring in the 50th minute of the match before Marcus Rashford scored his 22nd goal of the season two minutes later to equalise. United then took the lead in the 59th minute through an own goal before Raphinha equalised for Barcelona in the 76th minute. Next week will be the decider at Old Trafford.
United started well against Barcelona at the Camp Nou with Bruno Fernandes on the attack, whipping a dangerous cross into the box which was just missed by the outstretched leg of Fred. Both teams were looking to attack, which was the sign of a good match. In the seventh minute, Tyrell Malacia did well on the left to find Marcus Rashford, who played a cross into the box on the floor with Fernandes receiving it and firing a shot but it was blocked by Jordi Alba.
David De Gea made save in the ninth minute to deny Robert Lewandowski, with Alba crossing the ball into the Polish striker. Barcelona won a free-kick in the 12th minute as Fred fouled Gavi. Marcos Alonso took the set-piece and fired the ball over the crossbar. Come the 16th minute, United were on the back foot with Alba getting plenty of space on the left. Gavi had a chance on goal in the 19th minute, playing the ball into Pedri but it went over the bar.
United won a corner in the 21st minute as Jules Koundé tried to pass the ball back to Marc-André ter Stegen with the goalkeeper stretching to collect the ball and it going behind. Luke Shaw whipped the corner kick into the box but it was dealt with easily by the Barcelona defence. United came close in the 27th minute as Aaron Wan-Bissaka did well on the right, picked out Jadon Sancho who had a shot on goal but got a slight deflection with the ball going out.
Wout Weghorst had a great chance to put United ahead in the 28th minute, one-on-one with the goalkeeper but he failed to take advantage of it. On the half hour, United had a free-kick, taken by Shaw on the left. The cross was met by the head of Casemiro but it was straight to Ter Stegen. Alba was booked in the 31st minute for dissent. In the 33rd minute, Casemiro rose to win the ball in the box but could not reach it from the corner. Ter Stegen then made a save from Rashford.
De Gea made another save in the 37th minute with Alba driving towards goal but the Spanish goalkeeper was there to make the save. Wan-Bissaka’s challenge on Alba made the left-back unhappy – but he slid, won the ball in a fair challenge. In the 41st minute, Pedri could not continue and was replaced by Sergi Roberto. Raphael Varane brought down Gavi in the 43rd minute and was booked. Two additional minutes were played but it was 0-0 at the end of the half.
At the start of the second half there were not substitutions by either team. In the 47th minute Raphinha whipped a cross into Lewandowski but Varane did well to clear the danger with his head. Raphinha then had a shot on goal but was wide of the target. In the 49th minute, United had a chance at the other end of the pitch with Sancho at the back post but his effort on goal was wide. Barcelona took the lead in the 50th minute though Alonso with Raphinha getting the assist.
It was an almost instant reaction from United who equalised in the 52nd minute through Rashford, with his 22nd goal of the season so far. Casemiro found Fred, who played the ball into Rashford to get United their first Camp Nou goal since 1998. The match had burst into life. United were ahead before the hour after Jules Koundé scored an own goal in the 59th minute of the match. What a match this had become. Many thought United had little chance here.
In the 64th minute, Fernandes sent Rashford running, getting into the box and threatening again. It seemed he was fouled in the box by Koundé but the referee gave nothing. Erik ten Hag was unhappy and demonstrated it with the fourth official. The Dutchman booked. Casemiro was also booked in the aftermath of that. This was starting to become a nervy match with play at both ends with either side able to snatch something from the clash.
Barcelona made a triple substitution in the 67th minute with Ansu Fati, Andreas Christensen and Alejandro Baldé replacing Franck Kessie, Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba. Barcelona then won a free-kick which Lewandowski fired over the crossbar. Tyrell Malacia was booked for bringing Raphinha down on the 72nd minute with Gavi then booked a minute later for a foul – which will see him suspended for the second leg at Old Trafford in a week’s time.
Barcelona levelled in the 76th minute of the match through none other than Raphinha. He was beginning to play dangerously on the right with the former Leeds United winger threatening United time and time again over the last few minutes. It seemed that Lewandowski had a touch before De Gea was beaten, but he never touched it. 2-2 is a good result so far with all to play for at the Theatre of Dreams next week. Ten Hag and United will be pleased with that.
United had another chance to take the lead in their 79th minute with Sancho, who found Rashford in space but he fired his shot wide of the target. At the other end of the pitch, a boost piece of defending by Shaw gave Barcelona a chance Raphinha ending up lofting De Gea but he did not get enough on the effort to cause more damage. In the 81st minute, Ten Hag made his first substitution with Alejandro Garnacho replacing Sancho. United still have a chance here.
Barcelona made their final substitution in the 83rd minute of the match with former Manchester City winger Ferran Torres replacing Raphinha – who looked upset that he was coming off after being lively against United for much of the second half. Casemiro brought down Gavi in the 84th minute, a few yards outside of the United box. Nothing came of the set-piece for Barcelona with them seeking to get a win in this match after getting back into it.
In the 86th minute there was penalty appear for Barcelona. Fred was adjudged to have outstretched his arm in the box to deflect the ball. VAR took a look at the supposed handball but decided it was not worthy of a penalty. Barcelona seemed to be livid. The standard of refereeing in the match was quite poor against United with Barcelona seemingly playing up for the referee to get all of the decisions in their favour. United were lucky in the 87th as Casemiro hit his own post.
That could have been an embarrassing own goal to have scored, if it went in. United were on the attack in the 89th minute of the match with Barcelona under a bit of pressure. United did well in this match and got more from the match than I realistically thought they would. I predicted a 2-1 victory for United but did not believe it would be the case. A 2-2 draw sets everything up nicely for United in a week’s time – if it ended up that result – which seemed likely.
Around four minutes were added at the end of the match. There were no real chances in that time and it seemed like United would leave Barcelona with a 2-2 draw to battle out against at Old Trafford to reach the round of 16 stage of the UEFA Europa League this season. It was a good result for United. The match ended 2-2, which was fair. United now need to battle Leicester City at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday before they ready themselves for Barcelona again.
David De Gea: The Spanish goalkeeper was not able to match Peter Schmeichel’s 180 clean sheet record for United at the camp Nou but there is plenty of time for that to happen this season – it will be the last thing on his mind right now. He made a couple of saved from Robert Lewandowski and Jordi Alba. He was unable to stop Barcelona from scoring from both indirect and direct chances. It was a good performance for the Spanish goalkeeper though. ★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: The English right-back did create one of United’s best openings against Barcelona at the Camp Nou but at times he was not as strong as he could have been in the defence. It seemed like he was a constant presence in attack, with United capitalising from lots of opportunities, which was great to see. It was an encouraging evening for both Wan-Bissaka and United and they will be relishing their chance next week. ★★★★★★★
Raphael Varane: The Frenchman recovered well to deny Robert Lewandowski in the first half and really should have done more to deny Raphinha for his equaliser in the second half. He is a class act to have at United and his experience will benefit United in the coming weeks. United have a good chance to knock Barcelona out of this tie seeing them out of Europe this season but it will be a tough match at Old Trafford next week. Leicester up next though. ★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: Despite playing many matches in the last few months in this position, his inexperience in a central defensive role was clear to see. I think he favoured better than Harry Maguire of Victor Lindelof would have thought. He was caught out by both Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha. He will be much more comfortable playing in his favoured left-back role against Barcelona at the Theatre of Dreams next week. United did do well collectively though. ★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: The Dutchman could have made more of the space that United were afforded against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, especially on the flanks. He did advance into the final third but failed to take his chance which could have resulted in something for United. He was a positive with Luke Shaw in the centre of the defence but next week Lisandro Martinez will be back which could see the Dutchman on the bench once more. ★★★★★★
Casemiro: The Brazilian’s game management was brilliant for United and important for the United attacking players to get forward and create something for the club. He lost possession of the ball which led to Barcelona’s equaliser late in the match. He will have been rusty having missed the last two matches due to suspension. Will be rested for this weekend’s match with his final match ban after his sending off. A bright spark for United. ★★★★★★★
Fred: The Brazilian lost Marcos Alonso at the start of the second half with resulted in Barcelona opening the scoring. That was probably the best thing to happen to him as it inspired him to perform to a higher level. Just two minutes later he assist for Marcus Rashford’s equaliser with some good play in the run up to the goal. His performance grew later in the match and he was a positive, especially in the second half. Marcel Sabitzer could start next week. ★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Needed to do so much better against Barcelona. Did not take full advantage of Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s pull-back and he seemed to waste a good chance at the start of the second half. It is early days for him after his return from three months out already this season but that said, with Antony close to returning for United, he will need to impress to keep his place in the team – United’s bench will be stronger. Replaced by Alejandro Garnacho. ★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: Started on the right-wing but moved inside later in the match and created a great chance for Wout Weghorst from that position. He played a part in the goal scored by Jules Koundé after he flicked the ball into the box only for the French defender to put it into the back of his own net. He will be pleased with the result that United got but it should have been a victory. United will entertain Barcelona at the Theatre of Dreams next week. ★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: Scored his 22nd goal of the season and was up for getting more against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. What a season he is having for United. It almost seems like Erik ten Hag as found more ability from the forward and has nurtured him to find his true level in this game. Had plenty of chances and threatened Marc-Andre Ter Stegen on occasion before and after scoring. He got the better of Raphinha to get his goal in this match. ★★★★★★★★
Wout Weghorst: The Dutchman started in behind Marcus Rashford but had a great chance on goal one-on-one with the Barcelona goalkeeper and did not get a goal. He will need to finish a lot better than this for United during the remainder of the season. He has helped the United attack at times but needs to be scoring goals to make his loan spell successful at the Theatre of Dreams. Ten Hag will be pleased with what he has done but will want more. ★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Sancho 81′. Came on late in the match to bring some energy and pace on the ball. Did not have long enough on the pitch to take anything from the match but showed glimpses of what he could do. He will be pleased to get more minutes after doing well at the weekend against Leeds United. United got a good result in Barcelona but will need to be at the top of their game at the Theatre of Dreams next week. ★★★★★★
Goals: Marcos Alonso 50′; Marcus Rashford 52′, Jules Koundé 59’ o/g
Assists: Raphinha 50′; Fred 52′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Shaw, Malacia; Casemiro, Fred; Sancho (Garnacho 81′), Fernandes, Rashford; Weghorst
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Butland; Lindelof, Maguire, Dalot; Iqbal, Mainoo; Pellestri, Elanga
Bookings: Jordi Alba 31′, Gavi 73′; Raphael Varane 43′, Casemiro 66′, Tyrell Malacia 72′
Written by John Walker