Xavi congratulates Ten Hag, admits United caused Barca problems.


Barcelona manager Xavi congratulated Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag after the two teams drew 2-2 in the first leg of their Europa League knockout play-off tie on Thursday night.

Manchester United and Barcelona played out a 2-2 draw in what was an entertaining Europa League knockout round play-off first leg.

It was end to end action from both teams at Camp Nou, and it was former Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso who scored the opener from a corner set piece 5 minutes into the second half.

A determined Manchester United responded through a quick Marcus Rashford goal 2 minutes later, before forcing Barcelona put the ball behind their own net courtesy of Joules Kounde. 

United appeared as though they were heading towards a famous victory at Camp Nou, but Raphinha made it 2-2 in the 76th minute.

Barcelona coach Xavi was full of praise for Ten Hag and his side, suggesting that United are making a comeback while also insisting that the Reds made it difficult for the home side throughout the encounter.

“It was a really tough game, really difficult, with a lot of intensity, passion, rhythm,” Xavi said.

“We have to be proud because we compete really well until the end. We could have won in the last two chances but we played today against a top team in Europe.’’

“I think Manchester is coming back, and today they showed their best version. We compete really well, we need to be proud, and now we need to compete well in Old Trafford.’’

On his part, Ten Hag was impressed with Manchester United’s display against the La Liga leaders, but admitted his side missed the opportunity to take a lead into the second leg.

“If you face No 1 of Spain in an away game and you are that dominant, you can see it as a positive,” said the manager.

“We should have won this game so we have steps to go.’’

“Two good teams on a high level and I think it was really enjoyable to watch. I think everyone agrees it was a really high performance level from both teams. I was really happy with our performance against a strong team.’’

The two giants face off again in their second leg action on February 23rd, to be played at Manchester United home ground Old Trafford.


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