Barca fight back to secure thrilling draw with Man United

Barcelona and Manchester United played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie on Thursday, while Juventus were left frustrated by Nantes in a 1-1 stalemate.

The game at the Camp Nou brought together two European giants, who met in two Cham­pions League finals in 2009 and 2011, and who are both in excellent form domestically.

After a goalless first half, La Liga leaders Barcelona went ahead five minutes into the second half, thanks to a Marcos Alonso header at a corner.

However, United drew level just three minutes later when Marcus Rashford beat Barce­lona goalkeeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, at his near post to score a 13th goal in 15 games since the World Cup.

The Premier League side then took the lead just before the hour mark through a Jules Kounde own goal, but a Raphinha cross flew in inside the final quarter of an hour to secure a draw for Barca, before a crowd of more than 90,000.

“I think it was a great game. Two attacking teams, I think it was a Champions League game, even more than that,” United boss, Erik ten Hag, told broadcaster BT Sport. “We have to finish it in Old Trafford.”

Barcelona coach, Xavi Hernan­dez, was left complaining that his side should have had a penalty for a handball by Fred.

“It’s a stolen penalty,” said Xavi. “I don’t know why they don’t whistle for penalties for handball now. It seems incredible to me. Incredible.”

Winning the Europa League may represent the best chance for Juventus to return to the Champi­ons League next season, after they were handed a 15-point deduction in Serie A.

That punishment, for what the Italian Football Federation ruled was illicit transfer activity designed to artificially boost their accounts, has left the Turin giants 12 points adrift of the top four at home.

Against Nantes, they looked on course for a comfortable win when Federico Chiesa nodded a ball across the face of goal for DusanVlahovic to open the scor­ing early on.

But French Cup holders, Nantes, equalised on the break­away on the hour when Ludovic

 Blas ran through to finish emphat­ically. – AFP

Europa League last-16

first leg results

Leverkusen 2-3 Monaco

Juventus 1-1 Nantes

 Sporting 1-1 Midtjylland

Sevilla 3-0 PSV

S. Donetsk 2-1 Rennes

Ajax 0-0 Union Berlin

Barcelona 2-2 Man Utd

RB Salzburg 1-0 Roma

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