Paul Scholes celebrates his winner against Barcelona in 2008.

The full story: How we beat Barcelona on 2008

Saturday 06 April 2019 12:28

With the biggest game of our season so far coming up against Barcelona on Wednesday night, the Old Trafford atmosphere could play a vital role as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Manchester United team look to gain the advantage before the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final follows at the Nou Camp.

The last time the two giants met at Old Trafford was in the 2007/08 Champions League semi-finals - a clash that ended in a vital 1-0 win for the Reds which saw us progress to the final of the competition, when we famously triumphed against Chelsea on penalties on that memorable rain-soaked night in Moscow. 

It was 29 April 2008 when we welcomed Barcelona for a winner-takes-all bout. The fans flooded into the stadium with an air of anticipation lingering around the ground. Both teams knew that the game's outcome would decide the tie, after a tense first leg finished goalless at the Nou Camp.

Just before kick-off, as the players entered the pitch to a fervent atmosphere and the famed Champions League anthem reverberated around the Theatre of Dreams, the fans on the eastern side of the stadium produced a mosaic with the single word ‘Believe’ etched in white around a sea of red. 

The 'Believe' mosaic which was formed just before kick-off on the night.

That one word, 'Believe', sprawled across the Eastern stand, summed up the feeling on the night. A place in the final in the Russian capital awaited the Reds if we could emerge victorious on another huge European night. Sir Alex Ferguson and his men were only two games away from becoming European champions again - and the fans had faith.

Before the match, Sir Alex insisted that our passionate supporters had a big part to play in the game and called upon them to create an electric atmosphere - and the United faithful did not disappoint as Old Trafford became a sea of red and white.

The stage was set for a clash of the titans.

Amid a cacophany of noise, the referee’s whistle blew and the game began. In just the first minute, Lionel Messi made the first move as the Argentinian made one of his trademark powerful runs towards the United goal, but he was halted in his tracks by Paul Scholes, who brought him down just outside the United box.

With a free kick in shooting range, Messi squandered the opportunity to put Barca ahead as he fired the ball into the wall and the Reds stood strong. Any early nerves were laid to rest, however, as United pressed forward and the ball fell to Scholes, around 30 yards outside of the Barca box.

Hitting one of the sweetest strikes of his career, our no.18 hammered the ball towards goal and Victor Valdes - a future United keeper, of course - could do nothing but stand and watch as the ball flew past him, swerving into the top right corner of his net. United were ahead after 14 minutes.

Old Trafford was rocking, and the Reds dared to believe. 

Scholesy unleashed one of his trademark strikes from distance... and it found the net!

There was still a long way to go in the game and we knew we would have to stay focused at the back if we were to keep one of the world’s best teams at bay, but the Reds were up to the task.

As the game entered its final stages, chorus upon chorus of cheers rang out from the United faithful. This was it. The final whistle blew, and Old Trafford erupted with sheer joy.

After the game, the fans gained praise from Sir Alex as he thanked them for their support, while Cristiano Ronaldo also commended the support the team received. "The fans were fantastic," he said. "They did a great job and sang for the whole game. It gave the players the motivation and helped us get a massive result.”

“Nobody can deny the role the supporters had against Barcelona," Paddy Crerand later wrote in his column for United Review. "A few players looked dead on their feet, but they kept going because of the fans.” 

How we beat Barcelona in 2008 Video

How we beat Barcelona in 2008

See what happened when we last played Barcelona over two legs, back in the 2008 Champions League semi-finals...

Michael Carrick also reflected on the significance of that occasion and that bullet of a strike from the match-winner, who played alongside him in midfield that night. 

"We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve big things," he said. "We were so desperate to get to the final and win it. We knew it was going to be tough, but we made it.

"It was an awesome strike [from Paul]. I've seen him do it many times in training. I've watched him do it a few times here as well. I think that has to be up there with one of his best, especially in a game of this magnitude. To cap off a night like this with a goal of that quality was brilliant."

Michael Carrick says

"We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve big things. We were so desperate to get to the final and win it. We knew it was going to be tough against Barcelona but we made it."

After the outstanding comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the last round, ‘believe’ must be the buzzword for us again. If the atmosphere at the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday night is anything like that of the game back in 2008, we will surely have a great chance of toppling the Catalan outfit once more.

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