Black Immigrant Daily News
Barcelona and Manchester United served up a thrilling 2-2 draw in the Europa League knockout playoffs Thursday that outranked anything in the Champions League this week.
The former European champions traded leads in a back-and-forth second half of their first-leg game at Camp Nou.
Barcelona struck first in the 50th minute on defender Marcos Alonso’s header from a corner and leveled in the 76th when Raphinha’s cross from the right wing curled into the net untouched. United’s defense were distracted by Robert Lewandowski’s failed attempt to connect.
In between, Marcus Rashford showed just why Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez called him one of the most dangerous forwards in Europe.
Rashford beat goalkeeper Marc-Andr? ter Stegen at his near post with a shot from a tight angle in the 52nd then created United’s go-ahead goal seven minutes later.
Receiving the ball at the touchline from a corner taken short, Rashford dribbled into the penalty area then fired a low cross that was flicked on by Bruno Fernandes and bounced up to ricochet into the net off defender Jules Kound? for an own goal.
United goalkeeper David de Gea preserved the lead with late saves, after ter Stegen’s best saves were in the first half to keep out Rashford and Wout Weghorst.
It sets up an enticing second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday with a place in the round of 16 at stake.
Barcelona have never won the second-tier European competition — never even reached the final in 52 years as the UEFA Cup then the Europa League — and their 13th attempt look to be no easier.
Shakhtar Donetsk’s first competitive game of 2023 during the midwinter break for the Ukrainian league was a 2-1 win over Rennes in a “home” game played in neutral Warsaw.
Shakhtar’s first game since selling star winger Mykhailo Mudryk to Chelsea saw his replacement on the left flank, Dmytro Kryskiv, open the scoring in the 11th minute. Artem Bondarenko’s penalty in first-half stoppage time doubled the lead.
Rennes cut the lead with a volleyed shot in the 59th by Karl Toko Ekambi, the Cameroon international who joined on loan last month from Lyon.
Salzburg will take a 1-0 lead to Roma next week thanks to Nicolas Capaldo’s header in the 88th. Coach Jose Mourinho’s team almost leveled when Andrea Belotti’s header was pushed on to the crossbar by goalkeeper Philipp K?hn.
Ajax drew 0-0 at home to Union Berlin, the surprise Bundesliga title challenger.
In the later games, it was: Juventus vs. Nantes; Sporting Lisbon vs. Midtjylland; Bayer Leverkusen vs. Monaco; Sevilla vs. PSV Eindhoven.
EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
Fiorentina’s 4-0 rout of home team Braga was the standout performance in the four early games in the Europa Conference League knockout playoffs.
Forwards Luka Jovi? and substitute Arthur Cabral each scored twice, and Braga had defender Vitor Tormena sent off for a late tackle on Jovi?.
Trabzonspor won 1-0 at home to Basel, Qaraba? also won 1-0 at home to Gent and it was 0-0 in Norway between Bod?/Glimt and Lech Poznan.
In the later games, it was: Lazio vs. Cluj; AEK Larnaca vs. Dnipro-1; Sheriff vs. Partizan; Ludogorets vs. Anderlecht.