Barça and Manchester United leave everything to decide at Old Trafford

Barça and Manchester United leave everything to decide at Old Trafford

Barcelona overcame an adverse deficit to draw 2-2 at Manchester United in a vibrant first leg of the Europa League knockout stages.

Manchester United were better for much of the game and controlled the pace, but goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, who made three extraordinary saves in the first half, prevented them.

Barcelona, leaders of Spain’s LaLiga, struck first, five minutes after the break, when Marcos Alonso scored with a header at the second post after a corner.

Marcus Rashford equalised three minutes later, after a counter-attack from the right, with a clever low shot between Ter Stegen and the first post.

Rashford, in top form, also intervened in United’s second goal, going into the box after a corner kick and sending a low cross into the small area, where the ball bounced off defender Jules Koundé.

United players and manager Erik ten Hag complained after what appeared to be a clear foul on Rashford by the last man, Koundé, just outside the area, a breach that should have meant the red card for the France international.

However, Barcelona did not give up in their efforts to achieve the equalizer, and the errors of the United defense gave the ball in the front of their area to Raphinha, whose center-chut sneaked into the goal.

Barça pressed in the last bars and was able to score on a point-blank shot by Ansu Fati and a clearance from Casemiro that crashed into the crossbar.

Barcelona will travel to next week’s second leg at Old Trafford with a depleted midfield, as Pedri left in the first half with an injury and Gavi will be banned.

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In Austria, a headed goal from midfielder Nicolas Capaldo in the final minutes of the match gave Salzburg a 1-0 victory over AS Roma at the Red Bull Arena.

Jose Mourinho’s Roma controlled the game and could have gone ahead minutes before half-time through striker Tammy Abraham, but his shot from inside the box was saved by goalkeeper Philipp Kohn.

The Italians had another chance nine minutes from the end, with a point-blank shot from Andrea Belotti crashing over the crossbar.

However, Salzburg defender Strahinja Pavlovic assisted Capaldo with a pumped pass into the box for the Argentine to score the winning goal in the 88th minute.

In Amsterdam, Union Berlin failed to beat Ajax Amsterdam in the first leg at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

The Bundesliga leader scored in the 66th minute, when Morten Thorsby shot point-blank after cleverly tricking two defenders by bringing down a cross from Jérôme Roussillon with his chest.

However, VAR showed that his arm came into contact with the ball when controlling it and the goal was annulled.

Union deserved the goal, having shown most of the night’s offensive initiative and effectively closing the space Ajax needed for their passing game, but must now try to secure a place in the knockout stages when they host the second leg in the German capital next Thursday.

In Poland, Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk beat Stade Rennais 2-1 thanks to goals from Dmytro Kryskiv and Artem Bondarenko in the first half, while Karl Toko Ekambi’s second-half volley gave the French side hope ahead of next week’s second leg.

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