Barça take a valuable lead back for the Champions League quarter-final second leg at the Camp Nou thanks to a Luke Shaw own-goal.
Manchester United vs Barcelona: match report
It was billed as two giants of European football clashing at the Theatre of Dreams. As it turned out, it was an interesting, but far from spectacular affair. Ernesto Valverde couldn't have expected an away game at one of the Premier League 'big boys' to be so comfortable, with the early set up of United making a clear statement that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to still be in the tie by the time they kicked off at the Camp Nou on Tuesday. A few breakaways aside, there was rarely much in terms of creativity coming from those in red shirts.
Lukaku and Rashford were there to give strength and speed to the United attack, with support offered from the likes of Dalot and Young wide, and Pogba through the middle. The French World Cup winner added very little, while the crosses from either flank were far too easily defended. Changes came later in the game, but neither Martial nor Lingard had many opportunities to show their value, and across the 90 minutes the home side failed to get a shot on target. The most damage caused was to Lionel Messi's nose, when a stray Smalling arm had the Argentine needing attention.
in the end, without being particularly impressive themselves, it was the visitors who got themselves on the scoresheet, and it came very early on. A ball lofted over the defence was met by Messi and, as his control took him away from a shooting opportunity, he instinctively lobbed the ball to the back post where Suárez had sneaked in unmarked. His header was going across goal towards the incoming Coutinho but took a nick off Luke Shaw's arm and bounced into the net. It's an away goal that means United will need more of the fortune that went their way in Paris. With Valverde in a position to rest players this weekend, and with Dembélé likely to be back, the semi-final beckons for the only Spanish representatives in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Manchester United vs Barcelona: how it happened
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So, Barcelona will line up at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening with many feeling that they already have one foot in the semi-final. A Suárez-assisted Luke Shaw own-goal was the difference in terms of scoreline, but United will take some hope from their comeback in Paris. Real quality was in short supply tonight, with a defensive mistake looking more likely to cause trouble for the goalkeepers, but there was always something to keep our attention fixed.
Full-time | Manchester United 0-1 Barcelona
90'+3' And now we're over!!
90'+3' A free-kick midway inside the Barça half gives United one last chance. The ball is drifted high to the back post for Smalling who, despite a ridiculous flying Vidal challenge, gets a shot away. It's high, over...
90'+3' A strange last few minutes. United are sitting off and allowing their guests almost total freedom to play out the game. Surely they should be looking to take something to the Camp Nou.
90'+1' There will be three added minutes. It feels like both teams will take this score
90' Barcelona continue to show themselves superior at holding onto the ball. They are not under significant pressure in the middle of the park, which makes keeping the ball all the more easy.
88' United are pressing as we enter the final few minutes. Cross after cross is met by a Barça head and cleared. It feels a little desperate from the Premier League side.
86' Smalling into the book after a challenge on Suárez, who makes plenty out of it.
84' Pereira on for Rashford
83' Lingard almost links up with Martial in the Barça area but the ball is taken off the toe of the Frenchman just when it looked like he would score. Another change coming up for Solskjaer.
81' Free-kick on the edge of the area for Barça after Pogba catches Semedo rather nastily. Messi knows what to do from here...but goes low and almost fools De Gea. Comfortable save in end.
79' Barça starting to impose themselves again, although there is a feeling that United have reached a point of 'let's really not lose concede a second'. Sergi Roberto played into the open right side again but his cross is very poor and it's cleared.
75' Lingard into the book, harshly, for a soft foul on Vidal, who jumps high into the night sky.
74' Dalot, who's had a decent game tonight, goes off for Lingard.
73' Nice interplay from Barça down the full length of the right wing frees Sergi Roberto but he can't get his cross to a teammate and De Gea grabs it safely, then looks to start a move.
71' Busy few minutes for Vidal since his introduction. First he gives away a free-kick, fouling Pogba, which allowed Rashford an attempt at goal (which he skied well over). Then, another foul, this time on Fred, and he goes into the book.
68' United swap out the disappointing Lukaku for Martial. More pace
67' Jordi Alba hits a stinger towards De Gea's near post but it was unlikely to beat the Spaniard.
66' Sergi Roberto and Vidal coming on for Coutinho and Arthur
65' CHANCE!! Some tooing and froing across the pitch and then Semedo plays Suárez into the inside right channel with a delightful disguise. The Uruguayan should at least work De Gea but smacks it into the side netting. Poor effort. Changes coming...
60' A clumsy foul from Lenglet on Rashford gives United another chance to swing in a cross. It's again well defended.
58' A foul from little Messi on big Pogba there. Will we see more of them battling next season???
57' Fred gets a chance outside the area and thinks, why not! Makes lovely contact but the drive is met by a brave header and the Catalans take the ball away. Both sides trying to push on, which is nice to see.
54' Barça playing some keep-ball but nothing dangerous coming from their talented frontline.
52' Two promising moments both involving Rashford. First, Lukaku tries to get him scampering past Piqué down the inside left channel, but the defender slides well to clear. Then an attempted clearance drops to the young Englishman but he completely misscues the volley...which doesn't even reach the byline.
50' Ball hits Busquets' arm, nothing given. Coutinho finds himself in a United sandwich, free kick given.
49' Corner to United. Ashley Young is found making his way forward on the right, but his attempt at a cross is blocked. The corner is lifted into the mixer but headed away to safety.
48' A slight delay to proceedings as Rakitic slowly gets up from a McTominay challenge.
46' Barça don't take long to get possession back but then a back pass to Ter Stegen under pressure results in the keeper clearing it for a throw. Unnecessary.
Let's go. United start us off.
OK, the teams are heading out from the tunnel so let's get our game faces back on. United out first and here come the yellow shirts (they look even brighter, ouch!)
The home side have to be looking to suck Barça in again and then finding plays to get Rashford running at their defence. He's scary when he gets going. Creativity from the midfield is looking less promising, but the key is not to concede again (Camp Nou is not Parc des Princes).
In terms of the balance of play, it's the Spanish side who look more composed in possession but the game is certainly far from being dominated by them. In fact, the goal seemed to give United the impetus to push out more, much earlier than Solskjaer would have liked, I'm guessing.
Half-time | United 0-1 Barça (Shaw OG, 12')
45'+2' Peeeeep!! That's the first half done and dusted.
45'+1' We're into two minutes of added time and that Barça build-up leads to a half-chance for Suárez. Messi rolls the ball into a closely-marked Coutinho, who controls and flicks a backheel into the path of his strker. A first-time volley sails wide.
44' The yellow shirts of Barcelona taking back control here (there's a phrase I've heard a lot over the last few years!) and work it through the middle of the park slowly. It's pushed out wide, but there is no intensity to push on.
40' CHANCE!! Young swings in a deep cross from wide on the right and it finds Dalot all along at the back post. With the goal at his mercy, either a hard, low header or a dipping lob over De Gea, the Portugal international heads it all the way back to Young. Fans disappointment audible.
35' SAVE!! De Gea makes a magnificent stop with his foot from a low Coutinho strike. The danger, initially from Suárez, was caused by a poor attempt at a clearance, and the Brazilian's follow up was hit sweetly. Messi then picked up the rebound, danced away from two red shirts, before laying it off and the danger is gone.
34' Without United being overly impressive with the ball, their guests are causing themselves problems at the back and, if anything, the momentum is with the Red Devils.
The stop in play is for Messi. Replays show that he was initially shouldered by Smalling but a flailing right arm caught him on the nose, hence the blood. Treatment over, we're back underway.
30' The play continues and McTominay breaks into the Barça area. He goes down with a lazy Piqué leg hanging but no penalty is given. Replay suggests it could well have been but it doesn't look to be going to VAR.
29' Messi down injured, blood coming from his nose...
26' Pogba now with a chance to lift a cross into the area from the left. Lukaku is close but it's over him and out for a goal kick.
24' Almost tempting cross from Lukaku but it's easily collected by Ter Stegen. United coming back into this
21' Another break from Rashford, inside his own half but turning on the afterburners that have the backtracking Barça boys worried. Instead of going it alone he plays in the supporting Ashley Young whose attempt at an early ball into the area is...awful!
19' 'Right,' said Fred, as he takes over dead ball duties. He'll wish he hadn't! Luke Shaw booked there too.
18' Another free-kick chance for United as Busquets is judged to have pulled back Pogba as he picked up a loose ball. Yellow card shown although there's an argument the Frenchman had obstructed first.
16' The crowd is a little shocked by that early goal (and not too happy with who scored it either). The United players have to come out now but will not want to be out of this tie before they even get to the Camp Nou. Intrigue ahead...
United 0-1 Barça | It was Messi who latched onto the ball over the top and then lifted it across to the back post where the former Liverpool striker had escaped his markers. He headed back across goal and Coutinho was there to nudge it in, but it didn't require anything. Actually it did, but it came off poor Luke Shaw. Own goal given.
13' GOOOAAAALLLL!! Luis Suárez puts Barça ahead. But the flag is up for offside... It's given! And correctly so after VAR had a review.
11' The early balance of play suggests the visitors will have a lot of the play with United hitting with Rashford's pace. Not really a surprise if that happens. Oh wait...
8' United break and Rashford is put through by a beautiful pass from Pogba. Just when it looks as though he'll be one-on-one with Ter Stegen, out sprints the German to reach the ball first. Home fans excited by that.
6' Semedo breaks down the right side and gets into a great position to throw in a cross. Instead he cuts back inside and picks out Messi on the edge of the area. The Argentine is immediately closed down but dribbles and lays the ball off before the chance is gone.
4' The resultant free kick is hit well by Rashford but flies just wide of Ter Stegen's right-hand post.
3' A more direct approach taken there almost allows Suárez to get inside the penalty area but the home defence come away with the ball. Then a rash challenge from Busquets floors McTominay. A definite yellow later in the game.
2' A second corner quickly given away by United, and Barça fail to deliver the ball into the danger area again. The short corner is worked back and the visitors keep possession.
1' Barça shooting from right to left as we look on, and it's the visitors who get the ball under control and look to work it down the left side. The second attempt wins them a corner. Sharp smart.
And we're off!!
The Champions League tune signals the frantic shaking of the starred ball-flag in the centre of the pitch and then the two sets of players head over for some photos.
Right, the teams are strutting out onto the Old Trafford pitch. Everyone looking focused but calm...
It's almost time...
Much of the focus has, as is often the case, been pointed in the direction of Barça's number 10, but Luis Suárez could play a key role. He has scored some brilliant goals recently and can link up, as well as open up space, for his teammate. The United backline are going to need help from midfield.
Anyone out there remember the first time these two sides met each other at Old Trafford? Maradona vs Robson in the European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final. United started the second leg in Manchester two goals down. The final score on the night was 3-0, an incredible turnaround.
It's a fairly pleasant April evening in Manchester, with no significant wind to get in the way of a good quality game. Tactics, of course, could be more impactful on that!
The teams are currently out on the Old Trafford turf going through their final preparations before heading back inside for the motivational words from their managers.
Valverde has gone with a player who, like Pogba, has been strongly linked with a move away from his current club, but for different reasons. The huge transfer fee demanded from Liverpool (as well as a stunning highlights reel) meant that much was expected from the Brazilian, but this has not yet materialised. There's no doubting his talent, and playing against his former team's bitter rivals may give him that added incentive to do something special. No doubt the Old Trafford faithful will give him a warm welcome...
Matic could be a loss in the midfield, and some will be surprised not to see Lingard, so expect 22-year-old Scottish international Scott McTominay to have a busy day. What a chance to shine on the world stage.
Are you happy with the line-up United fans? The two goals from Lukaku set up the incredible turnaround against the Ligue 1 giants in the previous round. Both he and the last gasp scorer Rashford start alongside each other.
The team news is out. First up the home side...
Fans of the Red Devils will have taken notice of the game in Villarreal last week where their Catalan opponents conceded four goals against a side battling relegation. Questions have been posed across the season about their Messi-dependency...
...the counter argument to the last Messi stat is that the quarter-final stage is not the number 10's most effective. Since scoring against PSG in April 2013, he has attempted 49 shots in 11 games in this round, none of them rustling the net. Bookmakers don't think much of that though, as they have him favourite to open the scoring at 4/1!
Despite Solskjaer's comments that this game was not solely about United vs Messi, he'll be mindful that the little Argentine has scored 22 times against English sides in just 30 games. No other player has done so well!
Manchester United vs Barcelona: preview
What a mouthwatering game we have ahead of us tonight at Old Trafford. Two of Europe's heavyweights step into the ring, both attempting to hand their opponent a decisive blow before meeting again in the second leg at Camp Nou next week. Their respective corners contrast with the experienced visiting manager Ernesto Valverde setting out his stall against the relative new-kid on the block, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Their chosen line-ups could prove key.
Unlike their Spanish opponents, The Red Devils still have plenty to battle for in the Premier League. Currently in sixth place in the table, they are striving not to be one of the two 'big six' to miss out on the continent's top competition next season. Of course, if they are unable to make the top four, another route is by lifting Ol' Big Ears in May. Somehow they overcame PSG when they had looked outclassed for much of the two legs. Their big players will have to flex their muscles, against a side that is once again dominating LaLiga.
With the domestic league already in the bag, Barça can put all their focus on winning another European Cup, something that their talisman Lionel Messi has made clear is his dream. Despite a relatively comfortbale Liga run - many commentators have put this more down to a drop in their rivals' level than being exceptional themselves - Valverde's side have shown they have frialties. But an impressive win over Lyon in the previous round, and a confidence boosting victory in their top-of-the-table clash at the weekend, mean the blaugrana come into this fight as clear favourites.