Manchester United continue European adventure with comeback defeat of Barcelona

Manchester United’s Antony (centre) celebrates his goal (PA) (PA Wire)
Manchester United’s Antony (centre) celebrates his goal (PA) (PA Wire)

Supersub Antony fired Manchester United to a thrilling statement victory against Barcelona as Erik ten Hag’s improving side progressed from this breathless Europa League knockout play-off clash.

A week on from the absorbing, chaotic 2-2 first leg draw in Catalunya, these football heavyweights locked horns once again seeking progress to the last 16 under the Old Trafford lights.

Robert Lewandowski’s penalty had United facing an all too familiar European exit to Spanish opposition, only for Fred to fire home and Antony to superbly seal a memorable 2-1 comeback win, progressing 4-3 on aggregate.

This victory will be remembered with their 1984 and 2008 second-leg Old Trafford triumphs against Barca and sets Ten Hag’s men up nicely for Sunday’s shot at Carabao Cup glory against Newcastle at Wembley.

Ten Hag had called for his side’s best but their first half display was a pale imitation of their promising performance at the Nou Camp and Lewandowski punished them with an early penalty.

Bruno Fernandes could not believe his pull on Alejandro Balde was punished but the skipper helped made amends by setting up Fred to strike the Red Devils level just 85 seconds after half-time.

United returned from the break a different beast and Antony secured a huge victory by showing supreme technique to fire home in front of the Stretford End.