The European demons of FC Barcelona once again returned to haunt them as they came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Camp Nou in the Europa League on Thursday.
Raphinha scored a late equaliser for Barca, which gave way to an onslaught on the visitor’s goal, with the second leg to come next week at Old Trafford for a place in the round-of-16.
Marcus Rashford and a Jules Kounde own goal had earlier cancelled out Marcos Alonso’s header, with all four goals arriving in a crazy second half.
First half felt like big European night, but no goals
Excellent attendance at the Camp Nou in the first match of Europa League of this season. 90,225 viewers were at the Camp nou, a very high figure taking into account the time of the match (6:45 p.m.) on a weekday.
— Javi Miguel Club (@fansjavimiguel) February 16, 2023
In the first half, Barca lost Pedri to a thigh injury. The midfielder went down in the 38th minute when making a back pass and was unable to continue after receiving treatment from the medical team. Barça later said: “Pedri has a right thigh injury. Further tests pending to determine the exact extent of the injury.” According to Javi Miguel, Pedri will be out for around 1 month! He suffered a right thigh anterior rectus tear. Therefore, he’s in serious doubt for the ‘El Clasico’ on March 19.
Meanwhile a booking for Gavi means he will miss next week’s return match in England through suspension.
Xavi Hernandez surprised with the inclusion of Jordi Alba and Alonso in the side, with Alejandro Balde and Andreas Christensen left out.
Barça were also missing the injured duo of Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Busquets, but Robert Lewandowski was available and he forced David de Gea into an early save.
Despite ending goalless, the opening period was lively. Both Barcelona and Manchester United had their chances. But the best fell to United striker Wout Weghorst, who was denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen when one on one.
Ter Stegen also made another good save from Rashford, United’s danger man throughout.
The second half
— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) February 16, 2023
The second half started very well for Barcelona. Raphinha shaved the post from 25 yards before Jadon Sancho missed a good chance. Alonso then nodded Barça into the lead but United’s reply was immediate, with Rashford beating Alonso to fire low past Ter Stegen for his 22nd goal of the season.
That was all inside the first 10 minutes and United’s tails were up — especially Rashford’s. He was the architect of the second goal, too, beating Raphinha after a short corner and crossing low. The delivery caused confusion and ended up going in off Kounde.
Barca made a triple chance, with Christensen, Balde and Ansu Fati all coming on and the game swung in their direction.
They levelled through Raphinha’s cross, which Lewandowski could not quite touch, and then pushed for the winner.
De Gea saved brilliantly after Raphinha latched on to Ter Stegen’s pass and Fred was lucky not to give a penalty away for a handball.
Ansu then shot wide and then at De Gea, with Casemiro hitting the inside of his own post as he tried to clear.