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Smalling claims Manchester United ‘nullified’ Barcelona during 1-0 defeat

Chris Smalling believes Manchester United ‘nullified’ Barcelona, despite losing 1-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

Luke Shaw’s unfortunate own goal handed the La Liga champions an advantage heading into the second leg in Spain next week, though Smalling praised his side’s performance in containing a forward line including the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

“We pressed them high and made it difficult. It’s a shame we couldn’t get the goal. I thought we created some good chances,” Smalling told BT Sport.

“We had a spell in the first half where we went after them and then we looked nervy, but after half time we got at them.

“The whole team, we nullified them. I think there was only one other save for David de Gea. We knew we had to bring that intensity that they’re not used to.

“It was a good battle, my yellow card on Luis Suarez out of all the challenges I thought it was the softest.”

Unfortunately for United their own lack of composure in the final third also seemed to nullify their own goal threat, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men failing to register a single shot on target.