Manchester United will start an away goal down when they travel to Camp Nou next week after an unfortunate Luke Shaw own-goal was Barcelona emerge victorious in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.
The goal came early, with the suitably industrious Luis Suarez directing a Lionel Messi cross over the line, but only via Shaw’s midriff.
Messi went on to have a quiet night, largely due to being swamped by red shirts every time he picked up possession – and a grim black eye provided by Chris Smalling probably didn’t help either.
To that end, Scott McTominay and – after a slightly ropy start – Fred played incredibly well in the United midfield, with their combined work-rate and turnover play keeping the home side in the tie on several occasions.
Uncharacteristically sloppy on the ball, Barca fell flat for long swathes but United singularly failed to capitalise and ultimately didn’t muster a single shot on target in the space of 94 fruitless minutes.
2005 – Manchester United have failed to have a shot on target in a Champions League game for the first time since March 2005, in a 0-1 defeat at AC Milan. Timid. #MUNBAR
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 10 April 2019
In fairness, there was a ten-minute spell after half-time in which United suddenly began to put some nice stuff together. That felt like their window of opportunity, but it soon closed without an equaliser being forced.
So, with Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and later Anhtony Martial and Jesse Lingard failing to carve anything tangible out in the final third, Barca rallied to wick away the closing minutes and nullify things to the whistle.
Manchester 1-0 Barcelona
Messi odd, inert
McTominay and Fred good
Nil-Nil with a goal#haikumatchreport
— Who Ate All The Pies (@waatpies) 10 April 2019
United are still in this one, but we can’t help but feel like that, the home leg in front of an obliging Old Trafford crowd, was their chance to lay a glove or two on Barcelona.
Guess we’ll find out next Tuesday.