Manchester United defeated Barcelona at Old Trafford Thursday night to advance in the Europa League. The two sides previously played an enthralling first leg of the tie, as the match finished 2-2 at Camp Nou.

Barca entered the pivotal night without young stars Gavi, Pedri, and Ousmane Dembele. The latter two players are currently suffering from muscle injuries, while Gavi is suspended for the game. Barca boss Xavi could have opted to go with Ferran Torres or Ansu Fati to finish off a powerful front line. However, the coach went with a more cautious approach with Sergi Roberto.

Fernandes blunder gives Barca penalty

Nevertheless, Barca went ahead inside the first 20 minutes of the match. Referee Clement Turpin awarded the visitors a penalty in the 16th minute when Bruno Fernandes pulled down Alejandro Balde at the edge of the box. Replays suggested that a VAR review may not have given the penalty if Turpin had not originally awarded it.

Robert Lewandowski didn’t exactly look super confident in the spot kick and United’s David de Gea was able to get a hand on the shot. However, the pace on the shot propelled the ball into the side netting for the goal.

Hosts come out firing in the second half

Manchester United came out of the halftime break on fire though and Fred leveled the scoreline in the 47th minute. Fernandes fired in a pass to the Brazilian near the top of the Barca box. Fred did well to control the ball and shoot passed a diving Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The hosts continued their onslaught for another 15 minutes or so. Barca nearly grabbed the lead back against the run of play in the 64th minute though. Jules Kounde sent a header towards United’s goal from close range, but de Gea saved brilliantly.

Instead, United went ahead in the 73rd minute thanks to a goal from Antony. Luke Shaw started the play by keeping the ball alive with a back heel preventing a goal kick. After a multiple shots were blocked by Barca defenders, the ball fell to Antony. The second-half substitute then arrowed a low shot into the bottom corner of ter Stegen’s net.

Antony’s goal would turn out to be the winner in the two-legged tie. United now advance to the round of 16 in the competition. Barca, on the other hand, will have to turn their focus to LaLiga. The Spanish giants are currently leading the league by eight points over rivals Real Madrid.

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