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Thursday, February 16th, 2023
(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Barcelona and Manchester United shared a gripping 2-2 draw at Camp Nou on Thursday as the two European heavyweights traded blows in an intense Europa League play-off first leg.
Marcos Alonso sent Barcelona in front with a header but the superb Marcus Rashford drilled home to level for the visitors and helped force a Jules Kounde own goal which gave United the lead.
Raphinha’s cross flew in to pull Barcelona level and they might have won the game, hitting the post late on, while the hosts also wanted a penalty after Fred appeared to handle in the box.
Xavi Hernandez and Erik ten Hag’s sides are two of the most in-form teams in Europe and delivered a remarkable spectacle.
Having twice clashed in Champions League finals in 2009 and 2011, this Europa League duel offered an enthralling test of each team’s recent improvements.
“(We should have been) more clinical finishing chances,” Ten Hag told reporters.
“The disappointment is we didn’t score them, we should have scored a minimum of four goals.”
The coach also complained about a foul by Kounde on Rashford which went unpunished on the edge of Barcelona’s box.
“We can discuss if it was in the box or outside the box but it’s definitely a red card,” added Ten Hag.
“I asked the referee why. He said it was outside the box and not a foul. The linesman and referee were in a very good position and we have the VAR. I think it was a really bad decision.”
The visitors were without a host of players including Christian Eriksen, Antony and the suspended Lisandro Martinez, while Barcelona were missing injured duo Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Busquets.
Ten Hag was bolstered by former Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro’s availability, after missing the team’s last two matches.
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