(From L) Manchester United’s Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, Manchester United’s Argentinian defender Lisandro Martinez and Manchester United’s English defender Luke Shaw celebrate at the end of the UEFA Europa league knockout round play-off second leg football match between Manchester United and FC Barcelona at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England, on February 23, 2023. – Manchester United won 2 – 1 against FC Barcelona. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)
Manchester United edged out Barcelona to reach the Europa League last 16 on Thursday where they were joined by fellow heavyweights Juventus and Roma.
After the first leg of their play-off ended 2-2 in Spain, United got the better of Barcelona at Old Trafford to progress 4-3 on aggregate with Antony securing the winner.
Robert Lewandowski’s early penalty had given Barca the perfect start but La Liga leaders were again undone with the step up to the European stage as Fred levelled early in the second period.
Antony then delivered his biggest moment since arriving in Manchester from Ajax.
United are riding the crest of a wave in Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge as the Red Devils remain in the hunt for trophies on four fronts.
United could end a six-year wait for silverware when they face Newcastle in the League Cup final on Sunday.
But they left nothing in reserve to secure their biggest European scalp since dumping Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League last 16 in dramatic fashion in 2019.
United are now unbeaten at Old Trafford in 18 games dating back to September.
“Very good to hear my name from the fans but it was a good game we played today,” said Fred.
“We need to keep going. We have a final on Sunday and now we have to change our mind to go to the final.”
Former United star Angel di Maria scored a hat-trick as Juventus reached the next stage with a 3-0 second leg win over Nantes.
The result allowed the Italian giants to progress 4-1 on aggregate.
Argentine World Cup winner Di Maria opened the scoring after five minutes and then added a 20th-minute penalty.
Di Maria completed his hat-trick in the 78th minute, in a game where the French side had been reduced to 10 men after just a quarter of an hour when Nicolas Pallois was red-carded for handball.
“After we were knocked out of the Champions League, some people might have thought the Europa League would be a walk in the park for Juventus, but it is not that simple,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“This was an important match, but it was not perfect. We still have work to do. There were things I was not happy with this evening.”
Jose Mourinho’s Roma also made it to Friday’s last 16 draw as a 2-0 win overturned a one-goal deficit from the first leg against Salzburg.
Andrea Belotti and Paulo Dybala scored in a seven-minute first-half spell to secure the win.
Six-time champions Sevilla went down to a 2-0 defeat to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands but progressed 3-2 on aggregate.
Luuk de Jong and Fabio Silva hit late goals for the Dutch team who had Mauro Junior sent off in stoppage time.
Sporting Lisbon were also amongst the winners, a 4-0 victory at Midtjylland in Denmark sealing a 5-1 victory.
Union Berlin, who are riding high in the Bundesliga, defeated Ajax 3-1 after the first leg had ended goalless last week.
Robin Knoche, Josip Juranovic and Danilho Doekhi scored the goals which gave Union a first ever win in the Europa League knockout stages.
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