'We can score at Barca'

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez celebrating with Lionel Messi (left) and Arthur after an own goal by Luke Shaw gave them a 1-0 first-leg win in their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez celebrating with Lionel Messi (left) and Arthur after an own goal by Luke Shaw gave them a 1-0 first-leg win in their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Solskjaer invokes spirit of 1999; Pogba says they must be 'killers' to overturn 1-0 deficit

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows all about improbable Champions League comebacks.

It was 20 years ago in Barcelona, where he scored the late winner against Bayern Munich after Teddy Sheringham had equalised just moments before, to give Manchester United a second European Cup.

Next Tuesday, at the same ground where Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 30 Champions League games since 2013, the manager believes United can summon that 1999 spirit to knock out the Catalans, who lead their quarter-final 1-0 thanks to Luke Shaw's 12th-minute own goal on Wednesday.

"We've scored goals at the Nou Camp before from corners and crosses," said Solskjaer, who suffered his fourth defeat in five matches since masterminding a miraculous comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.

Last month, United became the first team to overcome a 2-0 first-leg home deficit and their 3-1 win in Paris gives the Red Devils "hope and belief we can do it".

Solskjaer added: "But we know we are playing against probably the tournament favourites and going to the Nou Camp will be a challenge.

"It will be a bigger achievement winning that one because with the history of Barcelona, they are not used to losing at home, but we can do it."

United can hope but, in their hearts, they must know that Barca are not PSG and, unless they can find a way to seeing more of the ball and using it to greater effect, they could end up with what they handed out to Lionel Messi: a bloodied nose.

With Messi looking mortal for a change, Barcelona were far from their best, but they still secured the win after Luis Suarez's far post header from the Argentinian's pass deflected in off Shaw and was confirmed by the video assistant referee after initially being given offside.

United defender Chris Smalling had said "bring it on" at the prospect of facing Messi on the eve of the game. And he left the 31-year-old bloodied from the nose as he careered into an aerial challenge on the half-hour mark.

United had excellent performers, with youngster Scott McTominay delivering a performance of real maturity, but Solskjaer simply cannot be happy with a quarter-final home leg that did not feature a single attempt on target.

  • 0

    It is the first time Manchester United have failed to have a single shot on target in a Champions League game since March 2005, in a 1-0 loss at AC Milan.

  • 8

    Luke Shaw's own goal was the eighth United have scored in the Champions League. No team have conceded more in the history of the competition.

Barca manager Ernesto Valverde is not taking anything for granted and said the tie is still finely poised.

"It leaves a good taste in the mouth to win here, but we know it is not a big enough lead given what happened (with PSG) in the last round," said the Spaniard.

United midfielder Paul Pogba said it is possible to win if they can be "killers in front of goal".

"We saw a team we can beat. If you don't believe that, then you just let them go through," he said.

"We believe we can beat them. They are Barcelona, but we are Manchester United... We have to avoid giving them chances and be killers in front of goal.

"We have to keep believing. It is a Champions League game and we know we can hurt them as well as they can hurt us."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2019, with the headline ''We can score at Barca''. Print Edition | Subscribe