Uefa Champions League quarter-final first leg Manchester United 0 Barcelona 1
But being damned with faint patronising praise is probably preferable for United fans than confronting the grim statistics of Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
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United were restricted to just 33% of possession by their Spanish visitors and they did not manage a shot on target over the course of the 90 minutes, the first time they’ve produced such a blank in a Champions League game since losing 1-0 to AC Milan in 2005.
United should be praised for conceding no more goals once Luke Shaw had deflected Luis Suarez’s cross into his own net on 12 minutes. They showed character in standing up to Barcelona but this was one Goliath that was never going to be slain by David.
No more feel-good factor
Were it not for two fine saves from goalkeeper David de Gea - one against Philippe Coutinho and the other from Lionel Messi - United would be all but eliminated from the tournament ahead of the return leg at the Camp Nou on Tuesday 16 April.
As it is they will travel to Barcelona next week minus Shaw, who is ruled out after being booked for pulling back Messi, and wondering how to score twice against a side that were so utterly dominant.
For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer it was a fourth defeat in five matches and the feel-good factor that the Norwegian brought to Old Trafford in December when he replaced Jose Mourinho has evaporated.
“There were pluses and negatives,” said Solskjaer. “We started sloppy and a bit nervous. After their goal we settled and played well.”
Asked if he believed United could do to Barcelona what they did to Paris Saint-Germain in the last round, and win the second leg on the road, Solskjaer replied: “Of course the PSG performance away gives us hope and belief that we can do it. But we know that we are playing against the favourites in the tournament.
“Going to the Nou Camp is going to be a challenge and it will be a greater achievement winning that one because with the history of Barcelona as well, they’re not used to losing at home.
“But we can do it, no doubt about it, we know we can carry a goal threat.”
The winners of the Barcelona-Man Utd tie will play Liverpool or Porto in the Champions League semi-finals.
Champions League results and fixtures
Quarter-final first-leg results
- Liverpool 2 FC Porto 0
- Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester City 0
- Manchester United 0 Barcelona 1
- Ajax 1 Juventus 1
Quarter-final second-leg fixtures
- 16 April: Juventus vs. Ajax (1-1 on aggregate)
- 16 April: Barcelona vs. Manchester United (1-0 on aggregate)
- 17 April: Porto vs. Liverpool (0-2 on aggregate)
- 17 April: Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (0-1 on aggregate)
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