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Barca prevail on penalties

08 Aug 2012 22:16:51

Barca prevail on penalties

Ashley Young revisited his Euro 2012 penalty nightmare as Manchester United lost their high-profile pre-season friendly with Barcelona in Gothenburg.

After a goalless 90 minutes, the contest was decided by what was supposed to be a three player shoot-out. But it didn't get that far as Nani and Young both failed to convert their efforts, allowing former Red Devil Gerard Pique to seal a 2-0 victory for the Catalan giants after Xavi had also scored.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be reasonably pleased with the workout, although after watching his side fire a blank in Norway on Saturday, maybe the deal for Robin van Persie cannot come soon enough. With Lucas Moura's move to PSG being confirmed and speculation intensifying that Van Persie was about to agree a deal, it was a busy enough day at United.

Compared to that, the opening stages were drab, certainly for a Red Devils outfit who were outplayed for long periods by a Barca team who have beaten them in two of the past four Champions League finals. As ever, Lionel Messi was behind so many of the Catalans' best moves.

The brilliant Argentina star only just failed to get on the end of Andres Iniesta's delicate early pass beyond the Red Devils defence and he was marginally offside when David de Gea blocked a close-range effort.

It was soon apparent though that with Antonio Valencia again asked to occupy a full-back berth, Cristian Tello would find plenty of room down the flank. Messi rolled one pass which the 20-year-old screwed wide and Iniesta set up another chance that he drilled into Rio Ferdinand.

Amidst this, Paul Scholes picked up a yellow card for a lunge on Sergio Busquets that sent the midfielder sprawling. It wasn't particularly impressive from Ferguson's men, although they did almost profit when Victor Valdes got his angles all wrong attempt to clear an Ashley Young corner and almost turned the ball into his own net.

The drama came in the final minute of the half though, when Tello slid into Nani to concede a needless penalty. Wayne Rooney expected to bury it. Instead Valdes palmed the shot away, and Rooney inexplicably sent the rebound wide with a mis-hit left-footed effort. Amongst the mass of half-time replacements were Shinji Kagawa and Jose Manuel Pinto.

And the United new-boy and Barcelona reserve keeper were soon in direct opposition, with Pinto coming out on top each time. The first was a precise shot for the corner, which Pinto did well to reach. The second was more speculative, from a ridiculously acute angle, with would have beaten Pinto had he not been alive to the danger.

Alexis Sanchez was denied by De Gea, who then produced a brilliant save to keep out Pedro's stooping header. It may have been a friendly but Ferguson was off his bench to complain when Busquets pulled Nani back as the winger was about to break clear. As Nani lashed out in retaliation, both men were cautioned.


PA

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