Barcelona grab crucial win over uninspired United

Manchester United will need another miracle away from home if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals after a narrow defeat to Barcelona at Old Trafford.

Luke Shaw’s 12th-minute own goal, scored in association with VAR, settled a scruffy game of few chances.

United played admirably without the ball, harassing a sluggish Barcelona to good effect, but lacked imagination and quality in the final third. They did not have a single shot on target in the match, although Diogo Dalot did miss a simple headed chance shortly before half-time. 

David de Gea made a couple of smart saves with his feet, one in each half, but Barcelona were nowhere near their devastating best. Lionel Messi, who had a bloodied nose after a robust challenge from Chris Smalling, was quiet after creating the goal. 

He and Luis Suarez are unlikely to be as quiet in the return leg next week. And though United recovered from a 2-0 defeat to overcame PSG in the last 16, it will be a major surprise if lightning strikes twice.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba–Getty Images

TALKING POINT

Should Sergio Busquets have been sent off? 

The match finished with the referee awarding yellow cards to Vidal, Lingard and Smalling for very little. Had he imposed the same standard earlier in the game, Busquets would have received at least three yellow cards in the first half alone. As it was, he walked the line between yellow and red card as only he can.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Scott McTominay (Manchester United) Where are you and what have you done with Scott McTominay? This was another performance of eyecatching authority from a player who looked mediocre at best under Jose Mourinho. He was dynamic without the ball, which wasn’t such a big surprise, and a revelation with it.

PLAYER RATINGS

Manchester United (3-5-2): De Gea 7, Lindelof 6, Smalling 6, Shaw 6; Young 5, McTominay 8, Fred 7, Pogba 7, Dalot 6; Rashford 7, Lukaku 5. Subs: Martial 6, Lingard 5, Pereira 6.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen 6, Semedo 7, Pique 8, Lenglet 6, Jordi Alba 6, Rakitic 6, Busquets 6, Arthur 7, Messi 7, Suarez 6, Coutinho 6. Subs: Sergi Roberto 6, Vidal 5, Alena 6.

KEY MOMENTS

13’ – GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 0-1 BARCELONA (Shaw own goal) Barcelona take the lead with the help of VAR. The goal was originally disallowed for offside, but that was the wrong decision and it was eventually given. Busquets clipped a ball over the top to Messi, who miscontrolled it on the run but recovered to loft a cross to the far post. Suarez – who was offside in the build up but not from Messi’s cross – headed the ball back across goal, where it hit Luke Shaw and dribbled over the line. Suarez will want the goal but I’m not sure his header was going in until it hit Shaw.

36’ – FINE SAVE BY DE GEA! A nothing ball forward from Lenglet was diverted back towards his own goal by Lindelof. Suarez held it up superbly, backing into Smalling, and laid it back for Coutinho to whistle a fine low shot towards goal from 15 yards. De Gea thrust out his left leg to make a superb reaction save.

40’ – WHAT A CHANCE FOR DALOT! It should be 1-1. Rashford, on the right, hit a brilliant booming cross beyond the far post, where the unmarked Dalot had a simple headed chance from six yards. He looked terrified at the prospect of scoring, however, and headed tamely back across the face of goal to nobody.

52’ – CHANCE FOR RASHFORD! Young’s cross is punched feebly by Ter Stegen to Rashford 12 yards from goal. He shapes to volley but can’t get over the ball and slices it off the side of his leg. In hindsight, he should have had a touch and then hit it.

65’ – GOOD CHANCE FOR SUAREZ! A long spell of Barcelona possession ends with Semedo playing a neat reverse pass into the area for Suarez, who smashes it into the side netting from a tightish angle. He should have done better.

66’ – GOOD SAVE FROM DE GEA! Jordi Alba’s fierce low shot from a very tight angle is kicked away by De Gea.

KEY STATS

Six of Barcelona’s Champions League goals this season have been own goals. Only Lionel Messi has scored more for them.

Manchester United had no shots on target for the first time in a home Champions League match since Opta records began in 2003. They have scored only once in five Champions League games at Old Trafford this season.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.