Marcus Rashford shines up Nou Camp Europa as Manchester United and Barcelona played out a rip-roaring 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Europa League knockout play-off clash. The global giants fought for Champions League glory in the 2009 and 2011 finals, but recent travails mean they were playing away from the continent’s top table as they continue their respective rebuilds. Thursday’s eagerly-anticipated meeting lived up to the billing as Rashford scored his 22nd goal of the season and fizzed in the cross that Jules Kounde turned into his own goal as United responded superbly to Marcos Alonso’s 50th-minute opener for Barcelona.
Rashford shines in Europa League sizzler with Barcelona
United shone in Spain but Raphinha’s cross found its way into the net to peg them back and sparked a breathless conclusion to a wild tie, setting up a mouth-watering return fixture at Old Trafford next week. Erik ten Hag’s players heeded his request to take the game to the runaway La Liga leaders, who had Marc-Andre Stegen to thank for keeping the first leg goalless at half-time. Bruno Fernandes brilliantly put Wout Weghorst through but the on-loan frontman could not beat the goalkeeper, who also stopped in-form Rashford from bending a shot home.
For all of United’s positivity, it was Barcelona that took the lead five minutes into the second half as former Chelsea defender Alonso rose to head home a corner. But Ten Hag’s men are made of stern stuff and Rashford is in the form of his life, with the forward thumping home from an acute angle and then sending over a ball that Kounde turned into his own goal. It was a mightily impressive display but United was not to end with a 2-1 comeback win at the Nou Camp like in 1999, with Raphinha’s dangerous cross going in – perhaps via a slight Robert Lewandowski touch. Ten Hag praised England forward Rashford and the efforts of his side.
“He is in great form,” the United boss said. “The whole team did well. It was a really good team performance. We had a lot of variation.
“We had a lot of opportunities and we should have won this game.”