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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 26 February, 2020


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A very good evening everybody, you’re welcome along to our minute-by-minute coverage of tonight’s highly-awaited Champions League quarter-final clash between Barcelona and Man United.

As everybody knows by now it is 20 years since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the most famous goal in the history of Manchester United Football Club at this ground to secure an unforgettable treble in 1999 under Alex Ferguson.

That night at the Nou Camp has naturally been one the dominant talking points leading into this second leg, with the visitors requiring similar levels of daring and destiny to come out on top tonight. Make no bones about it, United have a mountain to climb here.

Luke Shaw’s own goal at Old Trafford a week ago gives Barcelona a 1-0 lead and a crucial away goal, however this tie between two of European football’s biggest super powers is far from over just yet.

United passaged to the last eight owing to a miracle last-minute victory against PSG last month. With the memory of that dramatic win and Solskjaer’s last-gasp strike 20 years ago against Bayern Munich lingering, hope is still in supply for the travelling contingent of Red Devils supporters.

It promises to be an exciting night of action in Barcelona. Stick with us, kick-off is coming up in just over an hour’s time at 8.00pm — tonight’s game is live on RTÉ 2 if you happen to be near a TV.

Let’s get started with tonight’s team news…

TEAM NEWS: Ernesto Valverde makes just one change from last Wednesday’s 1-0 victory at Old Trafford. Sergi Roberto comes in at right back, replacing Nelson Semedo.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes three changes from last week’s first leg defeat. Phil Jones replaces Luke Shaw at the back, while Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial come in for Diogo Dalot and Romelu Lukaku up front.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suárez, Coutinho.

Substitutes: Cillessen, Semedo, Umtitti, Alena, Vidal, Malcolm, Dembele.

Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Lindelöf, Smalling, Young, McTominay, Pogba, Fred; Lingard, Martial, Rashford.

Substitutes: Romero, Dalot, Matic, Mata, Pereira, Sanchez, Lukaku.

It’s a massive, massive night ahead. Will Barcelona get the job done and see this through, or will another miracle prevail at Camp Nou for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at this famous ground?

The Champions League represents Manchester United’s only remaining chance of a trophy this season. While Barcelona are currently on course for a La Liga, European Cup and Copa del Rey treble to match 2009 and 2015.

Who’s going to go through tonight? Let us know below.

Poll Results:

Barcelona (227)
Manchester United (109)

What the managers have said…

Ernesto Valverde: ”We know the opposition will want to counter-attack us but we won’t let that happen by playing well with the ball and moving the ball quickly.

“It’s not a defensive question, it’s more about going forward.

“It’ll be important how we start and finish the game. United in the last minutes have something special. We’ve seen that at the Camp Nou before.

“All you can do is concentrate on what you think is good for you to do. We’ll do that. We’re aware of United’s threats and we won’t let it become an end-to-end game. We’ll look to close the spaces to limit their options.”


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “People have said to me it has to be our year because of 20 years ago and being back at the Nou Camp but to go through.

“We have to perform and have to deserve it. We can’t say we are just going to rely on fate.

“We know we can still be in this tie if we keep a clean sheet. In the 93rd minute, if we get a set-piece, we are taller and bigger than them.

“We need to defend well and we need to score. I don’t mind if it is in the 93rd minute.

“Barca here at the Nou Camp is a difficult prospect but that night [against PSG] will live with the players. It was not that long ago and we are one goal better off than we were then.”

Ten minutes to go before kick-off. If you’re at a loose end until then I would highly recommend this excellent interview by The42′s Eoin O’Callaghan with former Manchester United midfielder John Curtis.

Curtis was a youngster back in 1998 when United played out a Champions League classic against Barcelona at Camp Nou — a game where Rivaldo scored a sublime bicycle kick that cost him his win bonus. Ouch.



Close! Straight from tip-off Manchester United almost snatch a goal. Marcus Rashford smashes the top of the crossbar with a delightful toe-poke after veering into the box untracked. That could have been interesting. What a start.


That Rashford chance seemed to come out of no-where. A steady passage of build-up play saw Man United string eight or nine neat passes together from tip-off, with Rashford eventual straying right into the box to get his shot away before it came back out off the bar.


Very good early spell here from the visitors. Whereas you might have expected Solskjaer’s men to sit back and hold tight trying to snatch a break, instead they are ploughing men forward and putting Alba and Roberto under pressure down both flanks.

Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Camp Nou Source: Nick Potts


A first attack from Barcelona down the other end. Lionel Messi finds Luis Suarez between the lines and the Uruguayan decides to have a run at the United defence early doors. Suarez punts the ball 10 yards ahead into the box, but just doesn’t have the pace to catch up — David de Gea coming off his line to gather.


Another attack from United and this really is a promising start. Jesse Lingard sprints into the box trying to get on the end of a one-two. A host of Barcelona bodies featuring Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet outmuscle the English forward initially. But Marc-Andre ter Stegen causes a moment of panic after delaying his clearance. After trying to let the ball peter out for a goal-kick the German finally hoofs it away.


Another chance for Barcelona down the other end. Luis Suarez peels away down the right flank and thumps a dangerous ball right into the mixer. Gerard Pique, as he tends to do, has veered forward, but he fails to deliver a header as the ball zips above his head and out the other side of the box.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Manu Fernandez

Flag 12Mins


Serious drama at Camp Nou. After initially pointing to the spot for a foul by Fred on Ivan Rakitic, German referee Felix Brych decides not to award a penalty after consulting with VAR. Barcelona thought they would have the chance to break the deadlock, but instead it will be a drop-ball inside the box. Confusion and drama aplenty.


Manchester United earn a kick-out from the resulting drop-ball. There was serious tension inside the ground as the referee consulted with VAR before ruling out his penalty decision. Fred collided with Rakitic inside the box and the Croatian did spend a considerable amount of time on the ground, but after viewing the replays the referee deems it was a fair challenge.

Flag 16Mins


Barcelona find the breakthrough! Lionel Messi dispossesses Ashley Young outside the box, skips past the challenge of Fred before zipping a pinpoint low effort directly into David de Gea’s bottom corner. A sublime move and finish from the Argentinian. It’s 2-0 Barcelona on aggregate.



Wow! Messi has two goals in the space of four minutes, but goodness me it’s an absolute howler by David de Gea. The Barcelona forward let’s fly with a weak effort from outside the box — De Gea manages to get down in plenty of time to smoother the shot — but somehow the ball manages to slip under the goalkeeper’s dive. It’s a major blunder from arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. Is this tie over already?


Manchester United look stunned out there at the minute. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side were still in this heading into the second leg and with that dramatic comeback against PSG in the knockout stages you had every right to believe him. But with two goals in quick succession from Lionel Messi this quarter-final second leg could be over before it even got going. A mountain to climb for the visitors now — three goals needed without conceding another.


Another chance for Messi, who is on a hat-trick now. Ivan Rakitic feeds Jordi Alba on the overlap inside the box, the left back cuts the ball back on a plate for Messi to strike, but his left-footed effort flies just over the crossbar. He is on fire at the moment, Messi.

It was such a promising start by Manchester United tonight. Inside the opening 10 minutes Marcus Rashford was asking serious questions of Gerard Pique and his backline, but out of absolutely no-where Messi has switched the momentum entirely. Camp Nou is bouncing right now.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Joan Monfort


Solskjaer’s side enjoying a spell of possession now. Ashley Young and Chris Smalling are helping to switch the ball left and right, trying to calm things down a little bit and stem the current tide of Barcelona pressure. These past few minutes have been quite manic.


Half an hour on the clock. Just to take care of some house keeping, Manchester United would need three goals without conceding another to go through on away goals as things stand. It’s a mighty task at hand, with Barcelona only looking like adding to their tally with each passing attack.

Barcelona making it look so, so easy out there. Jordi Alba joins the attack and helps Luiz Suarez and Philippe Coutinho ease the ball about inside the box. The ball just oozes from one man to the next, almost like a magnet.

Spain: FC Barcelona - Atletico de Madrid. LaLiga, date 31. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images


Messi fancies his chances from a free-kick. It’s a serious distance out, the guts of 30 yards at least, and the task proves too steep for the Argentinian. Messi successfully curls the ball up and over the wall, but it fails to come back down in time and goes over the bar.


Barcelona have enjoyed 63% possession so far tonight. They have been in total control ever since going ahead and have at times looked like adding two or three more to the scoreline.


A chance for United. Paul Pogba finds a rare pocket of space just outside the box and offers a decent shot from distance. He makes a good connection on his right foot, but the effort is straight into the middle of the goal and easy to gather for Ter Stegen.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Joan Monfort


Another opportunity for United. Marcus Rashford battles down the left and manages to cut a dangerous cross right into the middle of the penalty area. It’s there for anyone to get a foot to, but Lenglet is first to react and manages to intercept with a sliding foot along the surface near the front post.


Almost a third on the night for Barcelona. Messi picks out Rakitic free and unmarked inside the box from a free kick. The midfielder directs a low header on target from a tricky angle, but De Gea gets down in plenty of time to keep it out and gather with a good save.

Free-kick for Manchester United in a promising position. It’s 25 yards out and in a good position almost directly in front of goal for Marcus Rashford to strike, but his effort is poor and hits the wall before being hoofed clear.

Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Camp Nou Source: Nick Potts


There will be two minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the first half.


Close! A sublime save by David de Gea prevents another for Barcelona deep into first-half stoppage time. It was an incredible move to make the attack, Lionel Messi twisting Phil Jones inside and out, but Sergi Roberto’s shot at the back post is hauled off the line by De Gea. Brilliant goalkeeping.

Flag 45Mins


Wow, what an opening half. A genuinely thrilling 45 minutes from start to finish full of sublime goals, terrible howlers, VAR drama and much more in-between.

A double from Lionel Messi sees Barcelona go into the break two goals to the good, 3-0 ahead on aggregate.

Manchester United started brightly, but not long afterwards it just became the Messi Show at Camp Nou. Three unanswered goals will see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men go through, but my God it’s a mighty mountain to climb.

More action to come very shortly!


No changes from either side at half-time and there’s a chance for Messi to complete his hat-trick straight away. There’s a cutback into the penalty area where Messi is on his own unmarked again, but his low shot aimed at De Gea’s bottom corner is deflected wide by Ashley Young. Great defensive block. 


It’s a game of keep-ball by Barcelona now. Man United are being pushed further and further inside their own half as Busquets and Rakitic dictate play, stringing the ball left and right with ease, making full use of that gigantic Camp Nou surface.

A corner for Manchester United as Solskjaer’s men venture forward seeking to get one of the three goals they require to make it potentially into the semi-finals. Anthony Martial battles hard and sees his shot deflected out wide, but the corner swung into the box is easily headed clear by Pique. Excellent clearance by the big Spaniard.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Joan Monfort


Lovely spell of intricate passing from Coutinho and Rakitic earns a polite round of applause from the home supporters. The ability of Barcelona to make other top-level sides look completely ordinary is quite staggering.


Luis Suarez tries to carve out some space to try and get a shot away. Rakitic and Alba pass their way all the way up the left flank before letting their number nine away at it. But once again Suarez’ first touch let’s him down and he is dispossessed before fouling Phil Jones and conceding a free out.

Flag 61Mins


What a goal! Philippe Coutinho surely puts this game to bed with a truly sublime strike from outside the box. Jordi Alba knocks the ball down following a long ball forward, Coutinho takes possession with one touch, before curling a sensational strike right into De Gea’s top corner. An unstoppable strike and it’s now 3-0 on the night, 4-0 on aggregate.


Messi almost completes his hat-trick as Barcelona throw men forward in search of another, and another and another. The ball bounces up inside the box as Messi tries a spectacular overhead kick from close range with his back to goal — but it just flies the wrong side of the post and wide.


Man United attack down the other end, trying to get some respite from this ongoing Barcelona onslaught. Marcus Rashford makes some headway inside the box but the referee flags for a free out. God love him, Rashford has ran his heart out tonight.


Exhibition football from Barcelona at the moment. The pass stats are climbing and climbing as that famous tiki-taka passing play unfolds before our eyes. A stray pass from Rakitic interrupts a solid two-minute spell of uninterrupted passing. But straight away Philippe Coutinho snatches possession back from Scott McTominay, almost like taking candy from a baby.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Joan Monfort


Interestingly, Barcelona have had 10 shots tonight compared to United’s six. Not a world of difference really, but that stat in isolation fails to tell the whole story of just how much Ernesto Valverde’s men have been on top in this quarter-final second leg.


A second switch of the night for the hosts. A few minutes earlier Nelson Semedo came on for Sergi Roberto, while now Arthur is replaced by Arturo Vidal. Romelu Lukaku has also come on as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes his second substitution too, replacing Marcus Rashford.


A first site at goal for Man United in a while. Jesse Lingard takes full advantage of a sloppy mistake by Sergio Busquets giving the ball away outside the box. The England forward tees himself up and lashes a powerful effort aimed for the top corner, but his chance flies narrowly over the bar.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Joan Monfort


That will be all from Lingard as he is replaced by Alexis Sanchez off the bench. The Chilean spent three seasons at Barcelona, winning one La Liga title, a Copa del Rey, a Spanish Super Cup, a FIFA Club World Cup and a Uefa Super Cup. He receives a big round of applause from the home supporters on his return to Camp Nou.


There is serious drama in tonight’s other quarter-final second leg, meanwhile. Ajax are currently leading Juventus 2-1 in Turin tonight (3-2 to the Dutch side on aggregate) meaning the Old Lady need two goals in the final ten minutes to stand a chance of going through. Ajax potentially in the semi-finals of the Champions League — my word. 


A final change from Barcelona sees goalscorer Coutinho replaced by Ousmane Dembele for the final few minutes. The game’s pace has died down quite a bit as both sides realise this tie is all but over.

Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Camp Nou Source: Nick Potts


Almost a fourth on the night as Barcelona continue to prod and probe in attack. Vidal picks out Suarez unmarked inside the box over on the right, but the striker’s low shot is weak and easily saved by De Gea standing on his line.


Luis Suarez has tried so hard to get in on the goal-scoring action tonight, but Lady Luck has just not been looking down on him. He tries a chipped effort from the edge of the box to try and catch De Gea off guard, but his effort dips just over the crossbar.

Save! Marc-Andre ter Stegen produces a brilliant stop to keep his clean sheet in tact. Alexis Sanchez with a powerful diving header from Victor Lindelöf’s delivery, but the German goalkeeper gets down to put a strong right hand to the ball and force it wide. He hasn’t had much to do all night, but he stands up when called upon the goalkeeper.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Joan Monfort


There will be two minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.


Another save! David de Gea with a brilliant stop to deny Messi his hat-trick in stoppage time. The Argentinian peels away untracked inside the box and lets fly with a powerful drive on his left boot — but the Spanish goalkeeper keeps his composure and palms the ball to safety.



It’s all over! A masterclass from Lionel Messi helps Barcelona into the semi-finals of the Champions League as the Catalans’ hopes of completing the treble continue into the final four.

Messi’s first was a typical moment of genius, before a howler from David de Gea saw the Argentinian snatch a second. Philippe Coutinho put the game to bed with another stunning effort after the break, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men never really threatening to turn the tie around.

Thanks a million for joining us tonight — you can read our full match report here and you can offer your own player ratings here too. Cya! 

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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