Manchester United overturned a 1-0 half-time deficit to beat Barcelona 2-1 and thus advance to the next stage of the Europa League, winning 4-3 on aggregate.
On a feverish night at Old Trafford, Erik ten Hag’s side further emphasised the enormous improvements they’ve made this season as goals from Fred and Antony saw them overcome the Spanish giants, who had led through Robert Lewandowski’s penalty.
Pinned back for much of the first half, United rode their luck at times and could have found themselves further behind at the break but they rallied and emerged in the second half with the bit between their teeth.
Fred’s goal almost immediately after the break inspired them, with Antony grabbing what proved to be the tie-clincher 15 minutes from the end.
It capped what had lived up to its billing as a brilliant two-legged European contest, with the two giants looking to solidify their claims of being on their way back to the top table of continental football.
Antony’s late goal saw Manchester United overcome Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate
The Brazilian was introduced at half-time and helped Erik ten Hag’s side overturn the deficit
David De Gea – 6.5
A few hairy moments for the Manchester United number one which have come to be expected by supporters in recent weeks. Otherwise, a solid performance. So nearly tipped Robert Lewandowski’s penalty round the post.
Aaron Wan Bissaka – 6
The defender has experienced something of a renaissance in his United career under Ten Hag, having initially appeared to be nearing an exit. Enthusiastic in the tackle, but a few wayward touches.
Raphael Varane – 7
The Frenchman has formed an almost-imperishable pairing with Lisandro Martinez. Undoubtedly one of United’s two best central defenders, he dealt with Lewandowski superbly.
Raphael Varane impressed in the centre of defence as United advanced to the last-16
Lisandro Martinez – 8
Has come a long way from his initial days as a United player, when he was mocked for his height. Let nothing pass, bullying Lewandowski for much of the night. Is already a cult-hero among many supporters.
The Argentine Lisandro Martinez has established himself as one of the side’s most vital players
Luke Shaw – 6.5
Another player Ten Hag has improved enormously. Didn’t let Raphinha have a sniff for much of the night and his backheel for what proved to be the eventual winner was decisive in its stylishness.
Casemiro – 7
An inspired signing and one that has transformed the team and club. Against players he has faced countless times, he excelled. Imperative double block on the stroke of half-time that – perhaps – kept the tie alive. Booked.
Casemiro dominated the midfield area – further emphasising his importance to United
Fred – 7
Ten Hag had delivered what are fast-becoming characteristically inspired half-time team talks. Fred clearly took on whatever it was that was said and immediately performed, scoring moments after the second half had begun. Impressive next to compatriot.
Bruno Fernandes – 5.5
Struggled in parts and gave away the penalty for what was labelled a ‘stupid’ foul. Typically aggressive in the tackle and combative, Fernandes appeared to rile Barcelona’s players. Assist for the equaliser. Booked.
Jadon Sancho – 6.5
Not his finest showing since being brought back into the fold but worked hard and caused Barcelona some problems.
Marcus Rashford – 6.5
Ridiculous scoring run comes to an end, but again, worked hard and caused Barcelona problems. Looked better and more effective in the second period when he moved central. They will hope his injury is nothing serious.
Marcus Rashford failed to maintain his frankly ridiculous scoring streak – his injury might be a concern
Wout Weghorst – 5
Taken off at half-time having failed to lay much of a glove on Barcelona in the first half. His substitution proved a sensible one, with his replacement grabbing the winner.
Antony (45′) – 7
Scored what proved to be the winner with a brilliant finish around 15 minutes from the end. Showed more pace than he previously had done in getting behind Barcelona. Final ball needs work.
Having been heavily criticised in recent weeks for a perceived lack of impact, United supporters will be delighted with Antony’s involvement
Alejandro Garnacho (67′) – 6
Good outlet to come off the bench, bringing energy and verve when the tie was on a knife-edge. Booked.
Diogo Dalot (67′) – 6
Different player to Wan Bissaka, brings more of an attacking outlet. Brought on to try and pin Barcelona back and did so ably.
Not on long enough to rate.
Manager – Erik ten Hag – 7
Half-time team talk changed the course of the game and the tie. His players emerged with the bit between their teeth, with Fred delivering results almost immediately after the restart.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen – 6.5
Some good saves and possesses an impressive command of his area. Nothing he could have done about either United goal, while he might look at his defenders for letting him down somewhat.
Jules Kounde – 6
Struggled for large parts of the night, with United using pace down their left-hand side to try and isolate him. Final ball was poor in attacking areas.
Jules Kounde worked hard down the Barcelona right-hand side but appeared to be targeted
Ronald Araujo – 7
An impressive showing in the first up, keeping United to very few chances as Barcelona tried to make their dominance tell. Xavi wants his team to pin back the opposition while recycling the ball swiftly, Araujo fits that profile perfectly.
Ronald Araujo was Barcelona’s best defender – his performance in the first half in particular was superb
Andreas Christensen – 6.5
Former Chelsea defender has settled in Catalonia suitably and has formed a good partnership with Araujo. Tidy on the ball.
Alejandro Balde – 6.5
Better than Barcelona’s right-back and provided a good attacking outlet during the first half. Appeared to go within himself in the second period and Antony found some joy against him. Fouled for the penalty.
Franck Kessi – 6
Got himself into promising positions but his touch often let him down. Allowed to get forward from midfield and he provides guile and an ability to beat a man. Seldom shown at Old Trafford. Lost the ball for the equaliser. Booked.
A stylish player, Franck Kessie, who possesses combativeness – but not his best night with his touch often letting him down
Sergio Busquets – 7
Timeless midfielder. Rolled back the years during the first half when the game appeared frantic, he was able to settle things down to control proceedings for Barcelona. Question marks about his age and movement surfaced in the second half when United grew in energy and adventure. Booked.
Frenkie de Jong – 7
So close to having joined United last summer, the Holland international continued his superb season here. Trusted by Xavi to roam, he got the better of Casemiro and Fred for the first 45 minutes.
Raphinha – 6
Would have wanted to impress on his return to Old Trafford having played for Leeds United, but struggled to do so. Didn’t appear to be on the same wavelength as his fellow attackers and toiled to find much joy up against Shaw. Dispossessed for the winning goal.
Raphinha tried to make things happen for Barcelona but was seldom able to evade the clutches of United’s backline
Robert Lewandowski just about put his first-half penalty away – otherwise toiled on a difficult night
Robert Lewandowski 6.5
Just about scored the penalty won by Balde in the first half and worked hard otherwise, but will feel he missed a presentable chance at the death, seeing his shot blocked by Varane. Booked.
Sergi Roberto – 6
Deployed on the left by Xavi in an unconventional role, some nice touches which brought others into play but was knocked off the ball easily. Missed the bite of Pedri and Gavi. Should have scored just before the break.
Ferran Torres (70′) – 6
Struggled to make an impact in his 20 minutes or so.
Ansu Fati (75′)
Replaced Raphinha. No notable moments.
Marcos Alonso (82′)
Not on long enough to rate.
Manager – Xavi Hernandez – 6.5
Tried to change the direction of the tie with his substitutions, but Ten Hag got the better of him in that department.
Xavi Hernandez was perhaps out-thought by the more experienced coach over the two legs
Clement Turpin – 6
Both sides appeared to grow frustrated with him. Fine. Nothing notable either way.