Barcelona and Manchester United played a massively entertaining match in Spain in the Europa League on Thursday. Both teams entered the night as two of the most in-form clubs in Europe. In fact, Barca and United both had just one loss over their last 17 total games. The Spanish side last lost in a Champions League matchup with Bayern Munich on Oct. 26. United, on the other hand, have only suffered one defeat since early November.
The hosts held possession fairly well throughout the first half of the game. However, the visitors certainly had the better scoring chances as the opening 45 minutes progressed. Wout Weghorst found himself free on goal in the 27th minute and should have put his team ahead. The Dutchman, however, put his strike directly at Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Casemiro and Marcus Rashford also saw shots well saved by the Barca keeper just minutes later.
Second half starts with a bang
Barca would get their breakthrough with a Marcos Alonso goal in the 50th minute. The score, which came from a simple in-swinging corner kick, was the defender’s second strike in as many European matches with Barca. Much of the pregame discussion was the fact that Alonso was even included in the team’s starting XI. The decision by head coach Xavi certainly seemed to pay off.
Rashford, however, leveled the scoreline just two minutes later. The on-fire England international slotted a perfectly placed shot passed ter Stegen from a fairly difficult angle. The German keeper may be slightly disappointed in his effort, though, as he was beaten at his near post, just like de Gea minutes earlier. Nevertheless, Rashford’s 22nd goal of the current campaign brought the visitors back into the game.
United would then quickly take the lead with their second goal in seven minutes. Rashford was once again pulling the strings for the visitors. The forward sent in a low cross into the Barca box, which flicked off of Casemiro and hit Jules Koundé on the way to the back of the net. The defender didn’t know much about it and was unfortunate to collect the own goal.
Barcelona steals draw from United in Europa League
Nevertheless, the hosts fought back to tie the game at two. Raphinha sent in a wonderfully whipped ball into the United box in the 76th minute. Although it certainly appeared to be a pass for center forward Robert Lewandowski, the ball made it all the way through the defense and into the net. It was the Brazilian’s fifth goal in his last 11 total appearances.
Barca had a few glorious late chances to grab the victory on the night, but the game would end level at 2-2. Neutral fans will be hoping for a similar fixture for the second leg of the knockout matchup. United will next host Barca on Feb. 23.
PHOTO: IMAGO / News Images
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