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szdaily -> Sports -> 
Barca wins at Man United in UCL
    2019-04-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

BARCELONA took control of its UEFA Champions League (UCL)  quarterfinal tie with Manchester United after securing a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in Wednesday’s first leg.

United defender Luke Shaw unwittingly helped Luis Suarez’s header into the net in the 12th minute.

Already trailing against a dominating Barcelona side, United had to resort to physicality after 30 minutes to try to thwart the five-time European champions.

Lionel Messi first felt the thud of Chris Smalling’s shoulder into his back. Then the Manchester United defender’s flailing right arm swiped across Messi’s face, and blood poured from the Barcelona forward’s nose.

An equalizer never looked likely, though, with United failing to register a shot on goal in a Champions League game at Old Trafford for the first time since 2005.

Barcelona’s goal — initially flagged for offside before being awarded via a video review — came during an exhilarating spell when the visitors’ possession exceeded 80 percent.

“It was a great header from Luis,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

“He was fighting for every cause. He was getting stuck into the defenders, trying to work really hard.”

But as Barcelona became sloppy and error-strewn, the early passing rhythm faded.

“We lost the ball in our own half a few times too often,” Barcelona defender Nelson Semedo said. “But shutting down those errors gave us this big victory.”

While the Spanish champions ended a six-game winless run on the road in European knockout games stretching back to 2016, this quarterfinal is very much still in play heading into the second leg.

So is the quarterfinal between Juventus and Ajax after the sides drew 1-1 in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

After showing no fear against Real Madrid, a young Ajax squad didn’t back down against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus either.

Ajax replied quickly after Ronaldo scored on the stroke of halftime, with David Neres equalizing 30 seconds after the break to secure a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

United only fleetingly imposed itself on Barcelona, but did so with force when Smalling escaped punishment for the foul, which left Messi needing to clean up the blood on the touchline.

“This was a tough, complicated contest,” Valverde said. “We dominated in spells but their pressure was high and difficult to break.”

The closest Messi came to his first goal at Old Trafford was in the 83rd minute when the sting was taken out of a low free kick and it was easily gathered by David de Gea. The United goalkeeper also denied Philippe Coutinho a chance to double Barcelona’s lead in the first half when his left leg kept out the shot.(SD-Agencies)

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