Rashford: Barcelona are a top team
Marcus Rashford praised the quality of opponents Barcelona after the first leg of Manchester United’s Europa League knockout round play-off tie but couldn’t hide his disappointment at leaving the Nou Camp with only a draw.
Our no.10 inspired a second-half turnaround after Marcos Alonso headed the hosts in front, as Rashford then equalised within two minutes and played an influential role in the goal that put us ahead moments later.
The game ended 2-2 in Catalonia, though, as Raphinha drew the hosts level with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining – meaning next week’s second leg at Old Trafford will be a hotly anticipated contest, with the tie still hanging in the balance.
Rashford: We can build on performance v Barcelona
Marcus is disappointed not to have won tonight, but feels United are in a good position going into the second leg...
While there was a highlight on the night for Rashford, as he equalled his career best goal-tally for a United season with a precise finish beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen, he was frustrated that the Reds were not returning to Manchester with a first-leg victory.
He told BT Sport: “It feels like a loss. I think we did well to get back in the game, the first half was probably a little bit in favour of them.
“But I think we stayed calm, we stayed composed, and we tried to create chances when we could. In the second half, we scored two goals in quick succession and we felt in control of the outcome.
“But they’re a good team with top players and they managed to get an equaliser.”
It was in the second half that the floodgates opened at Barca’s famed home, as Rashford became the first Red to strike against the Spanish side at Camp Nou since Dwight Yorke in November 1998 – when the sides played out a similarly pulsating 3-3 draw.
Our forward felt United showed great desire to get back into the game after going behind.
He continued: “I just think we were searching for the chances that little bit more, maybe it’s because we were a goal behind, but yeah, I felt like we were really going for it and trying to score goals.
“They’ve got a lot of top players, a lot of high-quality players, and if you give them time on the ball, they’re going to hurt you, it’s as simple as that.”
On his strike, he added: “It’s difficult to find an angle to finish from there so I just make my mind up and I tried to get as clean a contact as I could and luckily it went in.”
Another bone of contention for Rashford was a Jules Kounde challenge against him, as the Frenchman brought him down outside the box with only Ter Stegen to beat, but no intervention from the officials was forthcoming.
“It’s a massive moment in the game and to be honest I’ve not watched it back,” confessed the England international. “But in the moment, I don’t understand why the linesman or the referee – the linesman is closer – I don’t get why he thinks I’m going down there.
“I’ve touched it past him, and my foot’s in front of the ball and he hits my leg and it’s clear contact. It’s not a penalty but it’s 100 per cent a foul for me, but I’ve not watched it back.”
Later speaking to MUTV, Rashford provided further insight on the challenge, but did at least take some comfort from the team’s display.
He said: “It’s a massive moment at 2-1. I’ve not watched it back, but it’s a foul. It’s outside the box, it’s a red card and it changes the dynamics of the game.
“There’s no gain for me to go down at all. I’m confused by that decision but we have to move on now and 2-2 is a result we can take back, we can definitely take back the performance. We have a league game in between, but for the next game, we know that we can hurt them.
“It’s a good performance from us and one to build on and improve on.”