Barcelona and Manchester United produced a thrilling encounter worthy of the Champions League elite with an action-packed 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie at Camp Nou on Thursday.
Marcus Rashford looked to have inspired a memorable Man United victory as he scored and forced an own goal from Jules Kounde within nine minutes of falling behind through Marcos Alonso’s header from a corner early in the second half.
But the home side came on strong in the closing stages and leveled up the tie thanks to a wicked inswinging cross from Raphinha that found the back of the net. There could have been more late drama, too, with Casemiro turning the ball against his own post in the dying minutes of a breathless second half.
In a tie between two heavyweights looking to reclaim their place among the continent’s top tier, there was plenty of evidence that both are on the right track.
As for the immediate goal of reaching the Europa League round of 16, the tie is tantalisingly poised ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford in a week’s time.
Barcelona, though, may have to navigate the return game without both of their two young midfield stars after Gavi picked up a yellow card and a suspension and Pedri was forced off with an injury late in the first half.