Manchester United knock Barcelona out of Europe

Sports Desk, Feb 23 (EFE).- FC Barcelona fans will have to wait at least one more year to see their heroes hoist a European trophy after the Blaugrana let hosts Manchester United come from behind Thursday to prevail 2-1 and win the Europa League playoff 4-3 on aggregate.

Barcelona, who last won the Champions League in 2015, have crashed out of Europe’s elite club competition in the group stage for two consecutive seasons.

And while last year they at least reached the quarterfinals of the Europa League, Thursday’s result leaves Barcelona out of the final 16 of the second-tier tournament, though they are 8 points clear atop LaLiga and their pursuit of a record-extending 32nd Copa del Rey remains alive.

The Red Devils started in high gear before a packed Old Trafford and were poised to grab the lead in the third minute courtesy of Bruno Fernandes, but goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen blocked the shot with his leg.

Fernandes went on to play a key role in the Barcelona goal, fouling Alejandro Balde in the area on a corner in the 15th minute to set up a penalty for the visitors.

Robert Lewandowski’s kick was less than stellar and David de Gea managed to get a hand to it, but it caromed off the post and into the net to put Barcelona up 1-0 on the night and 3-2 overall.

Ter Stegen denied Fernandes again in the 23rd minute and a shot from Fred in the 36th ended up on the roof of the net.

A giveaway by De Gea in the 45th minute would likely have led to a second goal for Barcelona if not for Casemiro’s sliding block to thwart Franck Kessie.

The United comeback started barely two minutes into the second half, as Fernandes nudged the ball to Fred at the edge of the area and the Brazilian got enough on the strike to beat Ter Stegen.

De Gea impressed with a great save to stop Jules Kounde in the 64th and dealt easily with an attempt by Kessie a minute later.

The possibility of extra-time loomed until the 73rd minute, when the ball rolled to an unmarked Antony after successive blocked shots by Alejandro Garnacho and Fred and the young winger blasted it past Ter Stegen.

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