4 Things We Learned As Man United Beat Barcelona 2-1 At Old Trafford
It was sheer footballing magic that prevailed as Erik ten Hag encouraged his side to come up from going a goal down to then lambasting his critics with a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Europa League.
The Camp Nou tie which ended 2-2 pegged an exciting game for the neutral supporters, but the second half of the Old Trafford encounter was one that the Red Devils rejoiced on a global level.
Fred’s goal cancelled out Robert Lewandowski’s opener from a softly-awarded penalty, and Antony’s brilliant finish in the 73rd minute proved to be the winner, with the English side now progressing to the next round of the competition.
Here are the points fans will focus on from a memorable fixture-
1. Martinez-Varane Partnership
It is really telling of a side’s defensive strengths when both their centre-backs boast of recent World Cup medals.
That pure class was on display for this game as both Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane made crucial interventions to secure the win.
In fact, if not for the Frenchman’s confident interception in the dying minutes, the game could have very well gone into extra-time. Does not bode well for Harry Maguire’s future at the club.
2. Bruno the Creator
Bruno Fernandes’ creative presence was felt throughout the fixture.
While his assist for Fred’s opener was the obvious accolade for the Portuguese star to take away, Fernandes was also pivotal in beginning the passes which led to Antony’s exceptional winner. Yet again this came from a versatile spot.
3. Fred’s Best Performance as a Red
Fred was immaculate in this fixture, despite being on the sidelines ever since the arrival of Casemiro and the more recent inclusion of Sabitzer.
The Brazilian was clinical in his finishing and has already amassed 5 goals this campaign. The sheer finesse with which he whips chances out of chaos makes for a Man United classic.
4. Ten Hag Won the Manager Duel
This was always going to be a face-off between the gaffers and Ten Hag comfortably came out on top.
The real game-winning decision was the crucial substitutions of Antony and Garnacho which injected enough energy into the game for the dying minutes to just whizz past. In contrast, Xavi was a mute spectator who simply could not deal well with the cards that he was dealt.