A big statement for Man Utd in win over Barcelona, who can now focus on LaLiga

MANCHESTER, England – Manchester United knocked Barcelona out of the Europa League with a wild 2-1 win at Old Trafford. Erik ten Hag’s side came from behind to secure a place in the Round of 16 thanks to second-half goals from substitutes Fred and Anthony.

A first-half penalty from Robert Lewandowski gave Barcelona the lead, but after losing 4-3 on aggregate, the Spanish giants are left to focus on their La Liga and Copa del Rey campaigns.

Meanwhile, United are still in four competitions and are heading to Wembley for the League Cup final against Newcastle United on Sunday at their peak (broadcast on Sportzshala+, 11:30 am ET).

Fast reaction

1. Ten Hag defeats Xavi in ​​a sideline fight

There were exciting duels on the pitch – Casemiro vs. Sergio Busquets and Lisandro Martinez vs. Robert Lewandowski among them – but United head coach Erik ten Hag beat Barcelona rival Javi Hernandez in a turn that proved decisive.

Barcelona were in control after taking the lead, but the arrival of Anthony in place of Wout Weghorst at half-time changed the game. Anthony stretched Barcelona’s defense and Bruno Fernandes, moving to the center right, began to find more space and was involved in both of United’s goals. United still needed a full-length save from David De Gea to stop Jules Kunde’s header and stoppage time clearance from Lewandowski’s Raphael Varane before being sure of a place in Friday’s round of 16 draw, but Ten Hug can be pleased that he had a similar influence.

Against the backdrop of that frantic and furious European evening that United’s fans have been missing since they reached the Champions League final three times between 2008 and 2011, the Dutchman’s team in a new look showed that they are not far from being to repeat these events in the top clubs in Europe. Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City have already been defeated at Old Trafford this season, and against Barcelona United have another resounding victory in a season that promises to bring trophies as well as hope for the future .

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2. Not exactly kin, but Fernandes shows character in comeback

Bruno Fernandes seemed to risk letting the red mist take over in the first half, but regained his composure and led United’s rebuff.

He was already annoyed at missing out on a golden early chance after being beaten by Casemiro when French referee Clement Turpin awarded a penalty for tugging on Alejandro Balde. It was a soft decision, but Fernandez barely played the next 10 minutes as he spent them arguing with Xavi on the touchline and chasing Turpin for another line.

He nearly started a riot in the second half when he scored against Frenkie de Jong, but on both sides it was his composure that changed United’s game. First, he passed to Fred and the Brazilian equalized, and with the tie, he rebounded Rafinha from the ball in the corner to help Antoni set up.

It wasn’t quite the same as Roy Keane against Juventus in Turin in 1999, but it was still Fernandes’ captaincy on a big European night. It may not have been his most technical performance, but it was filled with the grit and grit that Ten Hag appreciates in his players.

3. The departure of “Barcelona” forces to focus on the essentials

Barcelona ended the first half in complete control after Levanovski put them ahead from the spot, and Xavi will no doubt be annoyed that Fred was allowed to equalize just a few minutes into the break. But it was a competition that Barcelona didn’t want to enter anyway after being knocked out of the Champions League after the group stage, and from then on, making sure they crossed the line in La Liga has always been a priority.

Despite the absence of Pedri and Gavi at Old Trafford, they controlled the game for a long time after the Lewandowski penalty, and it was only after the break that they began to look shabby, with Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford finding more space. As for the two matches, there really was nothing special between the two teams that are returning to the top of European football.

Barcelona, ​​still struggling to balance off-field records, could take a big step forward by winning their first Spanish title since 2019. Eight points ahead of leaders Real Madrid (with whom they will also play a two-legged Copa del Rey). Rey), they are on pole position and if they can do their job, very few fans will care about their very short foray into the Europa League.

Best and Worst Performers

BEST: Anthony, FW, Manchester United

Changed the game when he came out at half-time and scored the decisive second goal.

BEST: Lisandro Martinez, defender, Manchester United.

His position was ideal to repel more than one Barcelona attack.

BEST: Frenkie de Jong, midfielder, Barcelona

He struggled in the first leg but looked very calm with the ball next to Sergio Busquets, especially in the first half.

WORST: Coming out, FW, Barcelona

The Brazilian was too soft in challenging Fernandes ahead of Antoni’s win.

WORST: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, defender, Manchester United

Problems arose early in the second leg as Barcelona found gaps to United’s right and she had to be substituted for Diogo Dalota.

WORST: Wout Weghorst, ST, Manchester United

Came back forward but had little impact in the first half and was substituted at half-time.

Highlights and Notable Moments

Was it a penalty? It’s up to you, but Bruno Fernandes didn’t think so when he got mixed up with Alejandro Balde. Robert Lewandowski’s unexpected run-up from a penalty put Barcelona in first place.

After Fred equalized in the second half, it was Anthony who scored the winning goal, driving Old Trafford into a frenzy.

After the match: what coaches and players said

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag in an interview with BT on how big the win was: “Yes, we’ve had some good wins, Liverpool and Arsenal, but I think it’s more than two matches – Barcelona are top of La Liga – beating them is a big win.”

Barcelona head coach Javi Hernandez on leaving European competition: “The only good thing is that on Sunday we have a game, we are focused on Almeria. [in LaLiga action]then at the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday [against Real Madrid]There are two competitions left that are very important for the club.”

Xavi on whether Barcelona are better in Europe: “We are much better than last season… we faced Bayern, Internazionale. [in Champions League group stage], Manchester United… they are big teams, but we weren’t good enough. We improved, but it wasn’t enough. We will try again, be self-critical and strive for the best in Europe.”

Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes on the penalty: “Nothing I can say is going to change that now, but I think it was a little soft, we were both trying to get into position, we were both using our hands, but that’s what it is, I don’t want to comment.”

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets on defeat: “The first half was good. We had an advantage and we had chances to make the score 2:0. After the break, the situation has changed. They were much better. from there we tried, we had a couple of chances, Kunde was one, a few more … It’s a shame, but we were knocked out over trifles.

Barcelona defender Jules Kunde on the result: “Disappointment. We had high hopes for this competition. I don’t think it’s a failure considering how we competed against one of the most physically fit teams in Europe. We still believe that we have improved and now we want to keep growing and improving.”

Key statistics (provided by Sportzshala Stats & Information research)

– Manchester United are on an 18-match home unbeaten streak (16-0-2) after losing the Europa League to Real Sociedad at Old Trafford on 8 September.

– Manchester United are still in contention for the title in all four competitions this season: the Premier League, Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup. Barcelona can still win the domestic double (La Liga, Copa del Rey).

– Barcelona will not participate in the UEFA competition in March for the first time since they were knocked out of the Champions League group stage in 1998-99.

– Robert Lewandowski’s penalty was Barcelona’s first penalty of the season in all competitions.


Manchester United: What follows is a trip to Wembley where Erik ten Hag will be aiming for his first trophy with the club, playing Newcastle United in the League Cup Final (11:30 AM ET streaming on Sportzshala+). While they wait for their next Europa League rival, United will play in the FA Cup against West Ham United on 1 March, followed by three league matches (Liverpool, Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion).

Barcelona: The top team in La Liga will play Almeria on Sunday before playing the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid in March (3:00 pm ET streaming on Sportzshala+). Several important league matches (Valencia, Athletic) before the league Classical against Real Madrid on 19 March. All of these matches are also on Sportzshala+.


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