One European intermediate round only, but Barça-United will be a real soccer party
The most beautiful match of the evening produced the most beautiful match. FC Barcelona and Manchester United played 2-2 against each other in an open match.
Three Oranje internationals contributed to the soccer party. Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona, who have been unbeaten since October. And Tyrell Malacia and Wout Weghorst at Manchester United, which has established itself under coach Erik ten Hag and is back among the top in the Premier League.
Actually, the game did not get the stage it deserved. It was just an intermediate round in the Europa League, which still feels a bit like no man’s land in this club competition. The winner of the duel will advance to the eighth finals.
Other results intermediate round Europa League
|Shachtar Donetsk-Stade Rennais||2-1|
|Bayer Leverkusen-AS Monaco||2-3|
|Sporting CP-FC Midtjylland||1-1|
It could have been another wonderful chapter in the soccer book of Weghorst, who was thus just in the starting lineup and almost scored as well. After maneuvering himself free in front of Marc-André ter Stegen, his left-footed effort was turned away by the German goalkeeper.
Great chances United
And Weghorst was not the only one kept from a goal. In a strong phase by the English before halftime, Casemiro and Marcus Rashford also had great chances. De Jong almost scored an own goal when he intervened in a dangerous United attack.
After a big miss by Jadon Sancho shortly after halftime, Marcos Alonso headed in 1-0 from a corner against the odds. But under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson, United miraculously quickly turned that deficit into a lead.
The now 81-year-old manager piloted the Manchester club to Champions League victory in the same stadium in 1999 through two goals in injury time. Almost as hard now through Rashford (shot into the short corner) and Jules Koundé, who accidentally pushed the ball into his own goal at a corner.
Now, however, there was still half an hour to play, in which Barcelona tried with all their might to still pull the match to themselves. With Robert Lewandowski as a lightning rod, a Raphinha cross spun in at once, but a third goal was spared Ten Hag’s eleven in the closing minutes.
The return is a week from now at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag balks at result and referee: ‘Should have won’