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Ten Hag hails ‘great personalities’ as Man Utd complete ‘biggest win’ over Barcelona

Manchester United produced another memorable Old Trafford night as they came from behind to knock Barcelona out of the Europa League.

Having played out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw in the Camp Nou last week, Robert Lewandowski gave La Blaugrana the lead in the first half at Old Trafford after a silly challenge by Bruno Fernandes inside the area, before second half strikes from Fred and Antony turned the tie around.

 

The result means that Manchester United are now unbeaten in nine and have only lost one of their last 20 in all competitions, with the Red Devils having already chalked up some pretty notable results this season, particularly at home.

However, speaking at the post match press conference, Erik ten Hag feels that the win over Barcelona was the ‘biggest’ of his tenure.

“The biggest win? Yes, I think so. We’ve had some good wins, Liverpool, Arsenal at home, really good wins, but I think this [is the biggest]. Barcelona is the leader of La Liga, eight points ahead of Real Madrid, we’ve all seen Real Madrid this week, and if you then beat them I think it’s a big win.”

United looked a bit lacking in the first half as Barcelona dominated possession and took the lead, though Ten Hag said he felt that his side had the better of the chances, before they came out with more belief after the break

“I don’t think so. I think it was a cheap penalty but Bruno [Fernandes] takes the risk, that is different to the approach in the Premier League and we have to get used to it. We had chances, twice for Bruno, but Barcelona didn’t create that much or cause us that many problems. The problem with us was a lack of belief. In the second half, it was much better. You bring yourselves forward, you bring the subs on with a lot of belief.

“In the end, it was a great win because we had the belief to get that win. We got it by getting forward and, in the right moments, we strike.

“We have to act resilient. We have to be dynamite, to have the belief to win big games. In big games, it’s often about mentality and about being right in every moment of the game, to be ready for it because moments will change the game.”

Ten Hag sent on Antony as a half-time substitute, while Alejando Garnacho came on in the second half, with both putting in dynamic and determined performances.

“It is one part of my game-plan. We know that if we can bring Antony on, we can bring Alejandro Garnacho on, in the right areas you get speed, runs in behind, you get dribbles, and you get belief. They are both so brave. They dare, they don’t fear anyone, and, especially when you go to Stretford End, and they take players on, run in behind, it gives a boost to the whole team.”

Not for the first time this season, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez were immense in the back four, and the United boss praised the ‘great personalities’ and fearlessness within his squad.

“I think we have some great personalities in the team like Rapha [Varane] and Licha Martinez, and, going forward, I said already Antony, he or Garnacho don’t fear anyone. Bruno also, Casemiro of course, we have some players with great personalities and if you get setbacks, they move on and they carry on. They are resilient and determined. You have to be to get the result. And if you believe in that, if and when you concede a penalty, you have to go on, and you can turn around such a game. We know that, but you have to get the evidence and when you win a big game like this, from 1-0 down in a difficult situation, you can do it. This [win] is a good bit of motivation in the season.”

The Dutchman, true to form, refused to get carried away with the prospect of winning the Europa League or even their next opponents, with his focus now turning to Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.

“One by one. The Europa League? We don’t dream about European trophies. That’s far ahead.

“On Sunday, we have a great opportunity to win a trophy. We will give everything to win that trophy. From now on, our focus is on that game. It doesn’t matter to me [about the draw]. I focus on Newcastle United, it is the only thing that counts.”

Read – Iconic Duos: Striking synergy perfected, Cole and Yorke

Read Also – Eight of the most memorable games between Man Utd and Barcelona

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