Marcus Rashford just OWNED Barcelona! Winners & losers as Man Utd star continues imperious form in Europa League classic

Comments (0)
Marcus Rashford scream Manchester United Barcelona 2022-23
Getty Images
Barcelona and Manchester United played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in the Europa League on Thursday night, with the tie finely poised for the return leg.

This didn't feel like the below-par Europa League game Barcelona and Manchester United had been told it would be by rival supporters.

They played out an exhausting, back-and-forth 90 minutes in Thursday night's play-off, as a scoreless first half exploded into a four-goal second, with the sides locked at 2-2 after a thrilling contest at Camp Nou.

Marcos Alonso broke the deadlock early in the second half, peeling away to the back post before nodding Raphinha's corner past David de Gea.

Man Utd responded swiftly, with Rashford darting down the left channel and beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his near post. The visitors almost had a second shortly after, but Alonso was on hand to divert Rashford's shot.

A second eventually came, with Rashford at it again. The winger left Raphinha in the dust and whipped in a cross in front of the Barca goal, which Kounde helplessly diverted into his own net.

The Blaugrana equalised 10 minutes later, though, with Raphinha's angled ball darting past a frozen David de Gea, who perhaps expected Robert Lewandowski to get a touch.

Neither side could find a winner despite numerous chances as the clock dwindled. But it was perhaps a fitting end to a tie that neither team really deserved to lose. Everything seems set up for a gripping second leg at Old Trafford next week.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from the Camp Nou...

  1. WINNER: Marcus Rashford

    WINNER: Marcus Rashford

    Who else?

    Rashford was relatively quiet in the first half, but exploded in the second. He grabbed United's equaliser with a nice run and neat finish — beating Ter Stegen at his near post. The forward was also vital in the visitors' second, evading Raphinha before seeing his cross deflected off a helpless Jules Kounde and into the net.

    Rashford could've scored one or two more, but Ter Stegen denied him a couple of times from close range. Barca manager Xavi mentioned before the game that Rashford needed to be contained. His team couldn't live up to that challenge.

  2. LOSER: Jules Kounde
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Jules Kounde


    Xavi got it wrong on Thursday by starting Kounde at centre-back, while pushing Ronald Araujo out to the right. But it doesn't excuse Kounde's sub-par night. The France international distributed poorly, was slow in his decision making, and gave up an unfortunate own goal. He's been excellent so far this year, and this showing is likely an outlier. But if Kounde hadn't been off the pace, Barca might be going to Old Trafford with a lead. A switch to right-back is badly needed for the good of the team.

  3. WINNER: Raphinha
    Getty Images

    WINNER: Raphinha

    Was this the Brazilian's first big Barca performance? On a day where Lewandowski faltered and Pedri was forced off with an injury, Raphinha needed to provide a spark. And he obliged, terrorising a struggling Tyrell Malacia. The former Leeds winger got himself a crucial goal, too, ensuring that it's still all to play for at Old Trafford next week.

    There's a chance Ousmane Dembele could be back in the fold by then, but Raphinha might have done enough to retain his spot in the side - or at least give Xavi something to think about.

  4. LOSER: Pedri
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Pedri

    With Sergio Busquets and Ousmane Dembele already sidelined, Xavi did not need another injury to a starter. So much for that. Pedri came off late in the first half with an apparent thigh problem. Worryingly, there didn't appear to be any contact involved in his injury, either.

    Barcelona released a statement saying the player would need further tests to determine the extent of the injury. They will hope that their star man won't be out for too long - especially with Gavi now suspended for the second leg after picking up a needless yellow card.

  5. WINNER: Casemiro

    WINNER: Casemiro

    How badly United missed their Brazilian midfielder. Casemiro is serving a three-game domestic suspension after being sent off in the Red Devils' Premier League contest with Crystal Palace in early February. Fortunately for the Red Devils, he was able to play on Thursday outside of domestic restrictions and showed just how important he is to the team.

    Casemiro wasn't perfect - he gave away a couple of silly fouls and almost turned the ball into his own net - but he established the kind of midfield control that Man Utd have lacked in recent weeks. His work rate and defensive instincts put United well in charge in the second half, and are a major reason why his side left Camp Nou with a draw.

  6. LOSER: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

    Wan-Bissaka has been regularly maligned for his lack of on-ball quality since he joined United in 2019. But he appeared to have turned things around under new manager Erik Ten Hag, with a series of solid performances at right-back that kept him at the club through the January window.

    However, the Wan-Bissaka of old reared his head on Thursday. He was lacking on the ball, and too often slowed the game down when Man Utd looked to break. Wan-Bissaka also made a few uncharacteristic defensive errors, and failed to track Alonso on Barca's opener. It was a night to forget for a player who appeared to have turned things around.