Manchester United face another daunting Champions League salvage operation after Luke Shaw’s unfortunate own goal handed Barcelona the advantage in their Champions League quarter final tie.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side overturned a two-goal deficit in the previous round against PSG and will need to produce and equally, if not more, impressive comeback at Nou Camp in a week’s time.
Barcelona monopolised possession during the early exchanges and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring in the 12th minute.
Sergio Busquets expertly located the run of Lionel Messi with a perfect pass, but the Argentine’s first touch took him away from goal. Messi instantly rectified the situation by clipping an inch-perfect ball to the far post for the waiting Luis Saurez.
The former Liverpool striker’s header back across goal was unwittingly diverted into his own net by Shaw but the assistant referee’s flag initially came to the England defender’s rescue, before VAR correctly overturned the decision.
While they continued to dominate possession, Barcelona carried little by way of a goal threat and it was only a misjudgment from Chris Smalling which paved the way for Philippe Coutinho bring out the best in David de Gea with the Spaniard producing a stunning save with an outstretched leg.
United gradually edged their way back into the contest by sheer force of will, typified by Smalling’s ultra aggressive challenge on Messi, and could have been level at the break had Diogo Dalot been able to direct Marcus Rashford’s inviting cross on target.
Barcelona produced arguably the outstanding team performance of this season’s Champions League to date when they schooled Tottenham at Wembley back in October, but struggled to find the same coherence and potency at Old Trafford, particularly after the break.
Suarez slashed into the side-netting when sent clear by Jose Semedo, while Jordi Alba tested De Gea at his near post but United coped comfortably with the threat of Messi, despite a makeshift line-up.
Rashford missed the hosts’ best chance 10 minutes into the second half when he sliced a difficult chance almost straight up in the air after Marc-Andre ter Stegen had flapped at a cross.
Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard were both introduced late on but to little effect, leaving United needing to produce another miracle if they are to progress in the competition.