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Manchester United manager, Erik Ten Hag, has expressed his displeasure with the match officials after he saw his side draw 2-2 with Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
United fans will be happy with the result, knowing that all they need to do is win the return leg at Old Trafford next week to progress through to the next round of the Europa League. However, Ten Hag believes his side should and would have won the first leg if the officials had done their jobs properly.
The Dutchman’s biggest gripe is in relation to a challenge from Jules Koundé on Marcus Rashford in the second half with the scoreline 2-1 in favour of the away side. The England striker skipped away from Kounde on the edge of the Barcelona box and appeared to be brought down.
Although the challenge was just outside the box, the Barcelona defender would have almost certainly been sent off had the referee given a foul. Instead, he waved play on and Barcelona equalized not long after. Speaking after the game, Ten Hag said:
“I think the refereeing had a big influence in this game. I think it’s a clear foul on Rashy. You can discuss if it’s in or outside the box, but then it’s a red card because he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
It’s a big influence, not only on this game but in this round, and referees can’t make such mistakes.”
🚨🎙️| Marcus Rashford on Jules Koundé potential red: "It's a massive moment in the game. I've not watched it back, but in the moment I don't understand why the referee would think I've gone down. It's 100% a foul for me." [BT]
— centredevils. (@centredevils) February 16, 2023
An impressive away performance
Despite his frustrations at the performance of the referee, Ten Hag was also proud of how his side performed. Barcelona have been on fire all season and currently sit eight points clear at the top of La Liga.
The Spanish side have only conceded seven league goals all season but United attacked them from the first minute and will be disappointed to only come away with a draw. Marcus Rashford was once again at his scintillating best, scoring United’s first and playing a huge part in their second.
The two goals from the away side came quickly after Barcelona took the lead via a Marcos Alonso header. Xavi’s side then mounted a fightback of their own and equalised late on thanks to a cross from Raphinha which went passed David De Gea who was anticipating a touch from Robert Lewandowski.
Ten Hag was full of praise for his team afterwards, saying that it was a “really good team performance”. He added:
“I think it was a great game – two attacking teams. I think it was a Champions League game, even more than that, so I really enjoyed the game. In the end, it finished 2-2 and we have to finish it at Old Trafford.”
All to play for next week
It seems criminal that a game of this quality between two of the biggest clubs in world football should take place in the round of 32 of the Europa League, but here we are. Both sides were full of attacking flair and the second leg can’t come quick enough next week.
Barcelona will feel that they can play better defensively next week while United will feel that they can be more clinical. The English side will welcome back Lisandro Martinez next week after the Argentinian missed the first leg through suspension, while the Spanish side will be without Pedri who looks set for a lengthy period on the touchline with a hamstring injury.