UCL: Barcelona beat Man United 1-0

Barcelona defeated Manchester United during the first leg of the Champions League quarter – final match played at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have another monumental task on their hands in the Champions League after Luke Shaw’ s own goal gave Barcelona a 1 – 0 quarter – final, first leg lead at Old Trafford on Wednesday .
Shaw turned Luis Suarez ’ s header into his own net after just 12 minutes and despite being far from their best , Barca comfortably held out to edge towards a first Champions League semi – final in four years .

United produced one of the European Cup’ s finest ever comebacks from a 2 – 0 first- leg defeat at home to Paris Saint -Germain in the last 16 .

However , on the ground where manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer completed another famous fightback to win the competition as a player in 1999 , United must repeat the trick at the Camp Nou in six days ’ time .

Much has been made of Suarez ’ s Champions League goal drought on the road and while the Uruguayan has still not officially netted an away goal in the competition since September 2015 , he had a huge hand in Barca ’ s winner .
Lionel Messi drifted in behind the United defence and his cross hung up to the back post was headed goalwards by Suarez , the ball flicking off Shaw on its way past David de Gea .

An errant offside flag briefly threatened to spoil Suarez ’ s delight . However , the goal was quickly given on a VAR review and the former Liverpool striker took extra glee at having the last laugh with a fist pump in front of the Stretford End .

The early goal should have settled the Spanish champions into their stride as their dominance of possession touched close to 90 per cent in the opening stages .
Yet , they offered United plenty of encouragement with Sergio Busquets in particular off the pace.

Marcus Rashford shrugged off an ankle injury to start and provided by a distance United ’ s biggest threat .

A free – kick from the England international flew just wide inside the first five minutes and he sent another dipping effort from range just over Marc – Andre ter Stegen ’ s crossbar.

United defender Chris Smalling had said “ bring it on ” at the prospect of facing Messi on the eve of the game.

– Messi roughed up –
And he left the Argentine bloodied from the nose as he careered into an aerial challenge on the half – hour mark .

Messi was quickly back on his feet and into the heart of the action , but it was Philippe Coutinho who came closest to extending Barca ’ s advantage before the break with a thunderous low shot that De Gea did brilliantly to repel with his feet .
Moments later United could easily have been on level terms , but the hosts ’ best chance of the half fell to the wrong man as Rashford picked out Diogo Dalot only for the Portuguese to completely miscue his header across goal .

Rashford, though , also failed to make proper contact with his big chance early in the second – half when Ter Stegen could only punch a cross into his path .

United enjoyed the better of the opening stages in the second half , but lacked a creative spark to open Barca up with Paul Pogba too often picking the sideways pass rather than looking to thread the eye of a needle towards Rashford and the ineffective Romelu Lukaku .

Barca boss Ernesto Valverde reacted by introducing midfielders Sergi Roberto and Arturo Vidal from the bench in order to restore to control .

And as United chased in vain for an equaliser , the visitors began to create chances again in the final quarter .
Suarez fired into the side – netting before De Gea used his feet to good effect once more to deny Jordi Alba .

Anthony Martial had one final big opportunity to send United to Catalonia next week on level terms , but a heavy touch allowed the faultless Gerard Pique to intervene and condemn the Red Devils to a fourth defeat in their last six home Champions League games .
( AFP )

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