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Eight of the most memorable games between Man Utd and Barcelona

Manchester United and Barcelona are considered among European royalty, and the pair have shared plenty of memorable clashes against each other over the years.

The pair have won eight European Cups between them, including playing a number of finals against each other.

The pair meet once more this week in the UEFA Europa League, and ahead of that clash, we look back at some of the most memorable encounters.


Manchester United 3-0 Barcelona – European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final (1984)

An unfortunate Graeme Hogg own goal and a stunning Juan Carlos Rojo strike earned Barcelona a 2-0 lead in the first leg of their 1984 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final clash, leaving Manchester United with an uphill battle in the return leg at Old Trafford.

Ron Atkinson’s side got off to the perfect start however, with Captain Marvel Bryan Robson netting in the 23rd minute, reacting quickly to head home from close range following Norman Whiteside’s flick-on at a corner.

Robson then levelled the aggregate scores early in the second half, Javier Urruti spilling Ray Wilkins’ initial strike before the United number 7 pounced.

Three minutes later, the Red Devils were ahead. Robson sprayed the ball out to the left to find Arthur Albiston who put in a delicious cross to pick out Norman Whiteside. The Northern Irishman knocked the ball down into the path of Frank Stapleton who sent the Stretford End wild from close range.

The Red Devils would be knocked out by eventual winners, Juventus, in the semi-finals, but their comeback win against Barcelona was certainly a memorable clash.

Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona – European Cup Winners’ Cup final (1991)

The two sides met again in the final of the same competition seven years later in Rotterdam.

After a goalless first half, Mark Hughes opened the scoring for United in the 67th minute, poking home from close range following a Steve Bruce headed effort that looked to be floating narrowly wide.

The Welshman then doubled the Red Devils lead, latching onto a pass before nipping past the onrushing Barcelona, Carlos Busquets. Hughes’ touch looked like it had sent him too wide to find the net, though the striker produced a fantastic finish to put United on the verge of victory.

Ronald Koeman scored with a trademark long-range free kick to give Barcelona hope, before Clayton Blackmore had to clear off the line to protect United’s lead.

The victory was Manchester United’s first European trophy since their first European Cup triumph back in 1968, while it was also a sweet moment for Mark Hughes, who had returned to Manchester United for a second spell at the club after a disappointing period at Barcelona.

Manchester United 3-3 Barcelona – UEFA Champions League group stage (1998)

In 1998, the pair were drawn together in a Champions League group of death that also featured Bayern Munich and Brondby, and the first group game saw the sides play out a superb six-goal thriller at Old Trafford.

United – strangely playing in their white away kit at home – opened the scoring through Ryan Giggs in the 16th minute, the Welshman rising highest to head home a superb David Beckham cross, before Paul Scholes made two in the 24th minute, following up after Dwight Yorke’s overhead kick was saved by Ruud Hesp.

Sonny Anderson pulled a goal back early in the second half, before Giovani equalised from the spot after Rivaldo had gone down under the challenge of Jaap Stam in the area.

David Beckham scored a spectacular free-kick from all of 30-yards to put Manchester United back in the lead, only for Barcelona to equalise once again from another penalty, this time from Luis Enrique in the 70th minute after Nicky Butt had handballed it and was shown a red card.

Barcelona 3-3 Manchester United – UEFA Champions League group stage (1998)

Having drawn the first game at Old Trafford, incredibly, the two sides played out another sensational 3-3 draw at the Camp Nou just two months later.

Barcelona’s Sonny Anderson opened the scoring in the very first minute of the game, showing some good control before firing past Peter Schmeichel.

Schmeichel made two more crucial saves to deny Rivaldo and Anderson, before United drew level to equalise in the 25th minute, Dwight Yorke firing home from outside the area.

United then took the lead in the 53rd minute, Yorke and Andy Cole producing some neat interplay before Cole fired home, only for Barcelona’s Rivaldo to leave Schmeichel flat-footed at a free-kick to equalise just four minutes later.

Yorke re-established United’s lead with his second of the game in the 68th minute, getting on the end of a David Beckham delivery from the right to head beyond Ruud Hesp.

Barcelona managed to come back once more though as Rivaldo produced a superb sixth of the evening, the Brazilian controlling with his chest before firing an excellent overhead kick into the back of the net.

Both teams had chances to score a winner in the remaining time, including Rivaldo crashing one off the bar, but the match ultimately ended in another 3-3 draw.

United would progress from the group alongside Bayern Munich, before the pair would meet back at the Camp Nou in that final in May 1999…

“…and Solskjaer has won it.”

Manchester United 1-0 Barcelona – UEFA Champions League semi-final (2008)

The first leg of the 2008 Champions League semi-finals had ended in a goalless draw at the Camp Nou, and there wasn’t much to separate the two sides in the second-leg at Old Trafford either.

The breakthrough in the tie finally came in the 14th minute when Paul Scholes scored a stunning goal from 25 yards out. The midfielder collected a loose ball from Gianluca Zambrotta before unleashing a powerful shot that flew past Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes and into the top corner of the net.

Barcelona – armed with a young Lionel Messi – tried to respond, but Manchester United’s defence, expertly marshaled by Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, held firm.

United went on to win their third Champions League title by defeating Chelsea on penalties in the final in Moscow.

Manchester United 0-2 Barcelona – UEFA Champions League final (2009)

Having met in the previous season’s semi-finals, Manchester United and Barcelona met again in 2009 at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico in the final.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a couple of early chances to give United the lead, though they fell behind in the 10th minute through Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroon international received the ball from Andres Iniesta, cut inside Nemanja Vidic, before scoring with a low shot past goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

Barcelona then started to dominate the match, and eventually doubled their lead with 20th minutes left to play, Lionel Messi rising high to score a rare header following a delightful ball from playmaker, Xavi.

United struggled to cope with Barcelona’s possession-based style, with Iniesta and Xavi bossing proceedings on a stifling hot night in the Italian capital.

The victory was part of a period of dominance for the Catalan club which was widely regarded as one of the greatest club sides of all time.

Manchester United 1-3 Barcelona – UEFA Champions League final (2011)

After making it to the 2009 final, the two sides met again in European football’s showpiece in 2011 at Wembley, a stadium etched in the memories of both clubs.

United won their first European crown at the home of English football back in 1968, while Barcelona won their first under the shadow of the infamous twin towers in 1992.

Just like in 2009, Barcelona midfield trio of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets were dominant, once again controlling possession and creating numerous chances.

Pep Guardiola’s side took the lead in the 27th minute when Pedro received the ball from Xavi, before firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Unlike in Rome, Manchester United did manage to get back into the game and equalised just seven minutes later, winning the ball high up the field, before Wayne Rooney stroked home past Victor Valdes to give the Red Devils hope.

However, Barcelona re-established their lead after the interval, Lionel Messi picking up the ball before given time and space to advance and get a shot off to beat Edwin van der Sar from 25 yards.

Some more magical footwork from Messi in the 69th minute saw the ball drop to an unmarked David Villa, the Spain international having enough time to take a touch to set himself before curling home a fine third, and secure a fourth European title for the Blaugrana.

Speaking in 2019, Rio Ferdinand revealed that he challenged Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactics that particular night, admitting that Barcelona were “the only side that we had no answers for”.

Barcelona 2-2 Manchester United – UEFA Europa League playoff (2023)

After battling for the top honours in European football over the years, the two sides have since had a fall from grace.

However, having been paired against each other in the UEFA Europa League playoff round, the European heavyweights put on an absolute cracker at the Camp Nou as they played out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw.

A goalless first half only told half the story, with both sides creating chances, before the floodgates opened after the break.

Marcos Alonso nodded Barcelona ahead shortly after the restart, before the in-form Marcus Rashford produced a fantastic finish from a narrow-angle to beat Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

The England international then created the second as Manchester United went ahead, beating Raphinha before drilling it across the box, with the ball ultimately going in off Jules Kounde.

Barcelona struck back as a Raphinha ball into the box evaded everyone to nestle into the bottom corner, before a nervy ending in which both sides could have snatched a winner.

Read – Nine players who played for both Manchester United and Barcelona

Read Also – Iconic Performances: When R9 destroyed Man United and got clapped off at Old Trafford

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