Gerard Pique immense, Lionel Messi rather quiet as Barca take slim lead back to Camp Nou
MANCHESTER, England -- Luke Shaw's first-half own goal handed Barcelona the advantage over Manchester United in their Champions League quarterfinal as the Catalans won 1-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Shaw turned Luis Suarez's header into his own net early in the first half after Lionel Messi had teed up the Uruguayan at the far post. The goal stood after a review from VAR to check if there had been an offside in the build-up.
David De Gea made a good save from Philippe Coutinho to stop Barca from doubling their lead before United got a foothold in the game. That said, United were unable to muster a single shot on target and will have it all to do at Camp Nou next Tuesday.
There will be complaints about how Barca slowed down after taking the lead but they should also be commended for an impressive defensive performance. Led by the colossus Gerard Pique on his return to Manchester, they managed to restrict their hosts to a grand total of zero shots on Marc-Andre ter Stegen's goal.
In holding on to the 1-0 win, they not only recorded their first-ever win at Old Trafford, but also ended a long wait for an away win in a Champions League knockout game. This was the first time since they won at Arsenal in 2015, three years ago, that they have won on the road in Europe in the round of 16 or beyond.
Pique spoke before the game about not keeping United alive in the tie but the Premier League side are very much alive and kicking after this first leg. They turned around a 2-0 deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last round and will take belief from how Barca panicked when they pressed here.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Ernesto Valverde's team selection was predictable, with the inclusion of Nelson Semedo at right-back perhaps the only surprise. The coach's tactics suggest he will be happy to return to Camp Nou with a slender lead. He deserves credit for his second-half changes, too, switching from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 once United were on top.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Didn't face a single shot on target but had to be smart with his passing throughout the game. Knew when to take risks and when to send the ball long.
DF Nelson Semedo, 7 -- Good close control in defence got him out of a couple of tricky spots. Also produced a brilliant through ball for Luis Suarez, who smashed into the side netting in the second half.
DF Gerard Pique, 8 -- If not Messi, Pique has often been Barcelona's best player this season. Brilliant in the air and even quick across the ground when faced with the pace of Marcus Rashford. A brilliant tackle on Anthony Martial denied the Frenchman a certain equaliser late on.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 -- Had a rare off night, giving loose balls away, but still got forward to create problems and forced De Gea into a smart near-post save in the second period.
MF Sergio Busquets, 5 -- Could have picked up three yellow cards in the first half but luckily, for Barca, was only shown one. Improved in the second half when Valverde switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 6 -- Worked hard but lacked a spark further forward. A couple of times, when in good positions, he was forced to check back, slowing the game down and killing Barca's chance of hitting United on the break.
MF Arthur, 6 -- Good in possession early on when Barca were bossing the game but faltered as United began to press more effectively. Substituted in the 66th minute.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- Well shackled by United's crowded defence and midfield. Took a knock to the face in the first half from Chris Smalling which drew blood, but was unable to channel that pain into magic on the pitch, as he often does.
FW Luis Suarez, 7 -- Jeered before the game by the home fans because of his Liverpool past but was a menace for the home defenders throughout. Held the ball up well but lacked runners -- an Ousmane Dembele or a Malcom -- to link with. His far-post header led to the game's only goal, deflected in to his own net by Shaw.
FW Philippe Coutinho, 6 -- The former Liverpool man was clearly up for this game against his former rivals. Drew a fine save from De Gea in the first half and looked to get on the ball and create far more than in recent weeks. Unlucky to be taken off early in the second half.
MF Arturo Vidal, 5 -- A few fouls and a booking was his contribution in 25 minutes on the pitch.
MF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Made the type of forward runs from midfield which had been lacking before his introduction.
MF Carles Alena, N/R -- Brought on in stoppage time for Busquets.