Manchester United tasted their fourth defeat in five matches as Barcelona beat them 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
In what was Manchester United’s biggest test of the season so far, they were put under pressure in the early stages by Barcelona. And the early pressure resulted in a goal in the 12th minute as a Luis Suarez header went into the net via a deflection off of Luke Shaw. The goal was initially disallowed by the linesman for offside, but was given after consultation with the VAR.
Manchester United reacted well to going down early and started to grow into the game. They had a great chance to reinstate parity at the half-hour mark, but Diogo Dalot failed to head home a sensational Marcus Rashford cross. Soon after, David de Gea reacted brilliantly to deny Philippe Coutinho a goal and keep the scoreline intact.
Post the half-time break, Manchester United started the stronger of the two teams and looked to cause Barcelona problems. However, they lacked the clinical edge in the final third to hurt the Catalan giants. Suarez had an opportunity to make it 2-0, but hit the side netting from close-range, while Jordi Alba had a shot saved by de Gea.
The Reds are beaten but it's still all to play for at the Nou Camp next Tuesday. ✊ #UCL
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 10, 2019
Rashford and substitute Anthony Martial also found themselves in promising positions in the area, but could not apply the finishing touches, as Barcelona held out for their first ever win at Old Trafford. The result leaves Manchester United in need of another miracle at Camp Nou the coming week, and here’s how we rated the performances of the Red Devils’ stars on Wednesday.
David de Gea: 7/10
The Spaniard had absolutely no chance of saving the Barcelona goal, but made a brilliant stop with his feet to deny Coutinho in the first half. Followed it up with another strong stop to keep Alba out after the break.
Ashley Young: 1/10
Ashley Young’s stats vs Barcelona:
❌Lost possession a total of 32 times.
❌Attempted 11 crosses with 0 meeting their target.
❌No player on the pitch lost possession more.
❌No player had a worse crossing rate. pic.twitter.com/NCFXuxbrL4
— Football Stuff (@FootbalIStuff) April 11, 2019
Easily the worst player out on the pitch, by a country mile. Found himself in promising spaces down the right-hand side, but failed to put in a single cross of quality that could trouble the Barcelona defence. Constantly gave the ball away – the veteran lost possession a mind boggling 32 times on the night. Manchester United need an upgrade in the right-back position next season.
Victor Lindelof: 6.5/10
The Swedish centre-half did little wrong on the night, but did look a little shaky when Barcelona were in their elements early in the game. Much improved after the break, when he tried to launch attacks by stepping out of the backline.
Chris Smalling: 6.5/10
Had challenged Lionel Messi to “bring it on” prior to the game and looked up for the challenge from the word go. Left the Argentine with a bloody nose after a strong challenge in the first period and was a strong physical presence against him and Suarez all through the game. A solid display from the Englishman.
Luke Shaw: 4.5/10
Shaw was the left-sided centre-back on the night, but did not look all too comfortable when Messi ran at him. Lost Suarez at the back post before seeing the ball getting deflected of him and roll into his own net. Booked for a rash challenge on Messi that will see him miss the second leg due to suspension, which will be a blow for Manchester United.
Diogo Dalot: 5.5/10
Starting as the left-sided wing-back on the night, the Portuguese made a mess of Manchester United’s best chance of the night, as he failed to connect properly to Rashford’s brilliant cross in the first half, which proved costly. Other than that, it was a fairly tidy performance from Dalot, although, he did get caught out on a couple of occasions in the second period.
Scott McTominay: 7.5/10
By far the best Manchester United player on the field against Barcelona. Played with a great amount of energy and gusto, as he went toe to toe against the likes of Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic and held his own. Drove forward with purpose, used the ball intelligently, showed big-game temperament. Could have won a penalty in the first half and created a chance for Martial late in the game.
A solid display from the Brazilian international. Operating as Manchester United’s deepest of the three midfielders, Fred showed great energy in the middle, chasing the ball, pressing the opposition. His distribution, barring a few mishit passes here and there, was generally solid. Encouraging signs for the Red Devils.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
In tight games like these, players such as Pogba are required to step up and stamp their authority on the proceedings, but he failed to so, once again. Apart from a lovely through ball that almost created an opportunity for Rashford in the first period, the Frenchman offered very little in terms of creativity. Improved gradually, but needs to do be doing so much more.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
Having recovered from an ankle injury, Rashford looked up for the game. Fired a free-kick just wide off the mark early on and looked dangerous each time he ran at the opposition at pace. Delightful cross for Dalot, who failed to capitalise. Did miss a good chance after the break.
Romelu Lukaku: 4/10
Handed a start ahead of Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, Lukaku did very little to influence the proceedings on the night. His movement was often restricted, while his hold-up play was also off the radar. Rightly the first one to be withdrawn by the manager.
Anthony Martial: 5/10
Thrown on in place of Lukaku as Manchester United searched for the equaliser. Touch let him down after he was played in by McTominay for a chance. Other than that, very little involvement.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
Came on for Dalot with fifteen minutes left. Got booked immediately for a foul on Arturo Vidal.
Andreas Pereira: N/A
Replaced Rashford for the final five minutes or so.