Fred, Antony on target as Man United beats Barca to qualify for Europa League Round of 16

Fred and Antony scored second-half goals as Manchester United clinched a 2-1 comeback win against Barcelona and qualified for the Europa League Round of 16 with an aggregate score of 4-3.

Published : Feb 24, 2023 03:32 IST

Manchester United’s Antony, second right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side’s second goal.
Manchester United’s Antony, second right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side’s second goal. | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dave Thompson

Manchester United’s Antony, second right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side’s second goal. | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dave Thompson

Manchester United got the better of Barcelona to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League as Antony’s winner secured a 2-1 win on the night and a 4-3 aggregate victory on Thursday.

Robert Lewandowski’s early penalty had given Barca the perfect start at Old Trafford.

But the La Liga leader was again undone with the step up to the European stage as Fred levelled early in the second period before Antony delivered his biggest moment since arriving in Manchester from Ajax.

The fact that two of the continent’s giants were clashing at this stage of Europe’s second-tier competition was evidence that both have fallen on harder times in recent years.

But United is riding the crest of a wave in Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge as the Red Devils remain in the hunt for trophies on four fronts.

United could end a six-year wait for silverware when it faces Newcastle in the League Cup final on Sunday.

But it left nothing in reserve to secure its biggest European scalp since dumping Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League last 16 in dramatic fashion in 2019.

United is now unbeaten at Old Trafford in 18 games dating back to September but was forced to come from behind for the second time in the tie.

Bruno Fernandes missed a glorious chance to give the home side the lead inside three minutes when his angled drive was repelled by the foot of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona was unbeaten in all competitions stretching back to October when it was dumped out of the Champions League group stage at the hands of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

Despite its rise domestically under Xavi Hernandez to usurp Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, the Catalans again came unstuck in a big European test.

The visitors even failed to take advantage of a gift with the opening goal.

Fernandes foolishly stretched out an arm to catch Alejandro Balde, and French referee Clement Turpin infuriated Old Trafford by pointing to the spot.

David De Gea got a hand to Lewandowski’s penalty, but the ball rebounded in off the post in the 18th minute.

Barca was without the class and creativity of Pedri and Gavi in midfield due to injury and suspension respectively.

However, Xavi’s men went on to control the remainder of the first half without ever threatening to extend their advantage.

Ten Hag responded by replacing the ineffectual Wout Weghorst with Antony at half-time and got the desired response within two minutes.

Fernandes, restored to his preferred central midfield role, picked out Fred, who fired low past Ter Stegen.

United still needed a big moment by De Gea to prevent the momentum from swinging back towards the Catalan giants as he tipped over Jules Kounde’s header from point-blank range.

Antony has flattered to deceive since being reunited with Ten Hag after an £86 million move from Ajax.

However, the Brazilian delivered a moment of quality befitting of that price tag for the winner 17 minutes from time.

After Alejandro Garnacho and Fred saw efforts blocked, the ball sat up nicely for Antony to curl the ball beyond the outstretched arm of Ter Stegen.

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment