Wasteful Manchester United allow off the boil Barcelona to amble away with one goal advantage in Champions League tie.
Barcelona were dominant in the opening exchanges and looked good value for their lead when Luis Suarez’s header deflected off the shoulder of Luke Shaw to beat the stranded David De Gea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men may have rallied after their wakeup call, but a truly woeful display in front of goal meant they left Old Trafford on Wednesday night without a single shot on target in the Champions League for the first time since 2005.
Marcus Rashford saw his early effort glide past the post inside four minutes before Barcelona started to dominant possession, and within minutes their calculated passing had found its way through the United defence.
Lionel Messi, unsurprisingly involved, latched onto a lobbed Sergio Busquets pass and found a pinpoint cross to the back post for Suarez, whose header carried enough momentum to change course off the shoulder of Luke Shaw and beat David De Gea.
Despite earlier disappointment, the Spaniard was at hand to deny Phillipe Coutinho from doubling the visitors lead with a quality save, after the Brazilian combined with former Liverpool partner Suarez.
The hosts came agonisingly close four minutes from halftime when Rashford’s cross met Diogo Dalot at the back post, but the youngster failed to spot the gaping goal in front of him and sent a disappointing header across the area.
United were poor in front of goal the whole night and Marcus Rashford’s wasted effort from Marc-Andre ter Stegen botched clearance inside the box pretty much summed up their night, with the England international’s effort slicing high and wide off his shin.
Barcelona continued to pressure in such of the killer blow and came close via Sergi Roberto but for the challenge of Luke Shaw, who will be missing for the return leg thanks to a caution he picked up earlier in the game.
Advantage Messi and co.
Given just how wasteful Manchester United were in the forward areas, our unsung hero for the game has got to midfielder Scott McTominay, who is valued at £6.2 million (by Transfermarkt).
Barcelona may not have been at their best last night, but the Scot did incredibly well to stifle the majority of dangerous passages of play which crossed through his territory. Calm, physical, dominant – for the most part – Scott McTominay carried out the role asked of him in such comprehensive fashion it’s hard not to admire.
We dare say looked a million times better than Paul Pogba, whose head simply does not look like it is in it now.
Manchester United fans, is Scott McTominay more important to you than Paul Pogba in this kind of form? Let us know in the comments below…