LANDOVER, MD - JULY 30: Nani #17 of Manchester United celebrates scoring a first half goal against Barcelona during a friendly match at FedExField on July 30, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Barcelona lost the first friendly game of their USA tour tonight 2-1 to Manchester United. The FedEx Field was packed with a good crowd of 81,000 fans that showed up to watch the two European heavyweights replay the Champions League Final on U.S. soil. The teams emerged with the following formations:
Manchester United started lively in the half putting constant pressure on Barcelona for the first ten minutes and then adopted the approach to sit back and counter. This worked well for Manchester and it paid off when on 22 minutes Nani was played in with a superb pass in between the Barcelona defense and was off. As much as Barcelona tried to play the offside trap it failed, Abidal keeping him onside, and Nani scored into the bottom right corner, beating Valdes on the one-on-one. The half ended without much excitement as Manchester was comfortable to sit back and absorb pressure which Barcelona where modestly applying but not enough to cause any trouble. Jonathan Dos Santos was cautioned on 30 minutes for a challenge on Young but nothing else really unfolded. The half ended 1-0 United in the lead.
The second half started off with more expectation as Barcelona came out to play and attempt to equalize but the game slowly wore down to a crawl. Neither team seemed interested in playing at full tempo in the D.C. heat or risk and injury which is precisely what happened. Afellay was substituted out with a tear in his thigh while attempting to recover a ball from a United player, by Carmona. The game at this point seemed destined for a 1-0 win for United since nothing was really developing in the way of action which was dampening the high expectations many had anticipated for this match. Then on minute 69 Barcelona struck the equalize as Thiago finding himself unmarked and alone struck a 25 yard shot into De Gea's top right corner, leaving him and United's defense speechless. United however came here to prove a point and as many think, avenge the loss of the Champions League. Eight minutes later at 77 Michael Owen was played in between the Barcelona defense again and score the winner. Although the play looked off-sides it was counted as valid by the refs and United once again came alive in an attempt to inflict further misery. Owen then missed a point blank cross that simply needed a tap in to make it 3-1 and so the game ended, 2-1.
FC Barcelona - Manchester United (1-2) Full Highlights And Goals (via ErNanOBy)
United got their revenge, they emerged victorious 2-1 and controlled the game for the most part as Barcelona never really threatened for most of the game. From a footballing standpoint this game was bland and never offered the thrills and expectations it was made out to offer. But who can really blame the players for not giving their all since this is pre-season after all and a friendly.
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