In a thrilling encounter at Old Trafford, Manchester United secured their spot in the last 16 of the Europa League with a 2-1 victory over Barcelona, completing a 4-3 aggregate win.
The hero of the night was Antony, who came off the bench to score the winning goal for Erik ten Hag’s side with just 17 minutes remaining.
Barcelona had taken the lead in the 18th minute through a penalty by Robert Lewandowski, who had also scored in the first leg at Camp Nou. However, United responded early in the second half with a goal from Fred, who was set up by Bruno Fernandes.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 23, 2023
The game was evenly poised until Antony’s introduction, and the Brazilian made an instant impact, scoring the winner with a neat finish into the bottom-left corner.
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United held on for a famous victory, their first over Barca since the 2008 Champions League semi-final second leg.
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The game started brightly for United, with Casemiro releasing Fernandes in the third minute, but the Portuguese midfielder’s shot was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. However, Fernandes was at fault for Barca’s opener when he brought down Alejandro Balde in the penalty area, allowing Lewandowski to convert the spot-kick.
Despite falling behind, United continued to create chances, and Fred almost equalised before half-time with a shot that went narrowly wide. The hosts’ pressure paid off early in the second half when Fernandes set up Fred for the equaliser.
United looked the more likely to score, but they were almost caught out on the break by Barca when Jules Kounde’s header was brilliantly saved by De Gea. However, it was Antony who would have the final say, guiding the ball into the net to complete a memorable comeback for United.
The win was a huge boost for United’s season, and they will now look forward to the next round of the Europa League with renewed confidence.
For Barca, it was a disappointing end to their European campaign, but they can take solace in the fact that they pushed United all the way in a thrilling two-legged tie.