Europa League: Man Utd draw thrilling contest with Barcelona

Raphinha of FC Barcelona and Casemiro of Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off leg one match between FC Barcelona and Manchester United at Spotify Camp Nou on February 16, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.

Manchester United and Barcelona contested a thrilling first-leg draw at the Nou Camp to leave their Europa League play-off tie finely poised.

Having previously met in two Champions League finals – both of which Barca won – the sides are on the path to recovery in trying to reach those heady heights again.

This encounter in Europe’s secondary competition was another step on that road back to the top.

Xavi’s men grabbed the opener when Marcos Alonso headed in at the back post from Raphinha’s corner, but United responded immediately through the in-form Marcus Rashford as he slipped in a finish at the near post.

Erik ten Hag’s side showed their resilience to turn the game around as Rashford’s cross was then turned into his own net by Barcelona defender Jules Kounde.

But United were unable to hold on as ex-Leeds winger Raphinha’s cross from wide on the right sailed all the way into the net.

Barca, though, almost snatched a late victory when Casemiro’s attempted clearance struck his own post, but little separated the sides heading into next Thursday’s second leg at Old Trafford.

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