Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
NBCSports Header Logo

Manchester United edge out Barcelona in brilliant, back-and-forth Europa League tie

Ian Wright, Olivia Buzaglo, Darren Bent and Flo Lloyd-Hughes name some of the keys to Marcus Rashford's incredible form after he smashed his career high with his 23rd and 24th goals of the season.

Fred and Antony were the heroes of the day as Manchester United battled to beat, and eliminate, Barcelona in the crown-jewel clash of the Europa League’s round of 32 on Thursday.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

After playing to a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou last week, the European giants went toe-to-toe, trading goals back and forth once again in leg no. 2 at Old Trafford. It was a matchup, and a tie, that typically belongs in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League, but was nonetheless no less thrilling for its place in the second-tier competition.

Barcelona drew first blood after 18 minutes, after Bruno Fernandes’ wholly unnecessary hook and pull on Alejandro Balde was whistled as a foul inside the Red Devils’ penalty area. The degree to which Fernandes fouled Balde was perhaps debatable, but the fact remains the contact was unwarranted so far away from goal, and moving away from goal.

Robert Lewandowski stepped to the penalty spot and put David de Gea on ice skates with a stop-start run-up, unable to push the ball wide of the post even though he got a hand on it.

[ MORE: Champions League score predictions ]

As the first half wore on, Manchester United possessed the ball and created less and less, necessitating a swift halftime change with Antony replacing Wout Weghorst on the right wing. Within two minutes of the restart, they were level as Fred shinned a first-time finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and the Red Devils were in full flight.

So too were Barcelona, though, as the game stretched from end to end with scoring chances for either side.

Luke Shaw began the game’s decisive move with a backheel to Fernandes, who slipped a clever pass to Alejandro Garnacho inside the penalty area. Man United would need three bites of the cherry to beat the Blaugrana defense, as Garnacho and Fred’s attempts were blocked, but Antony’s left-footed curler found its ways through a sea of bodies and under Ter Stegen’s hand to make it 2-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate.

Nearly four minutes into second-half stoppage time, Raphael Varane got one last laugh at the expense of Barcelona, after 10 years at Real Madrid. Lewandowski raced in behind the Man United defense and beat De Gea back across the face of goal, but Varane made the desperate recovery run to boot the ball clear as the very last line of defense.

Stars of the show

Manchester United vs Barcelona


How to watch Manchester United vs Barcelona live, stream link, kick off time

Date/Time: Thursday, February 23 at 3 pm ET
Online: Live updates via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines

With each club very much in a transitional period, the 2022-23 season has seen both Manchester United and Barcelona make massive strides forward under new managers, with both arriving back among the domestic elites perhaps a year (or two) ahead of schedule. Man United have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League fixtures (8W-2D-1L) and find themselves in 3rd place, just two points off 2nd and five back of leaders Arsenal.

In La Liga, Xavi’s first full season is going quite swimmingly, with Barcelona back on top of the table, either points clear of defending champions and rivals Real Madrid. With 16 games to go, the Blaugrana look set to reclaim the title after three seasons outside the winners’ circle.

Manchester United team news, lineup options

OUT: Christian Eriksen (ankle), Anthony Martial (hip), Donny van de Beek (knee), Mason Greenwood (suspension - MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Antony (undisclosed), Harry Maguire (knee)

Follow @AndyEdMLS