Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is dreaming of another memorable comeback in the Champions League but has admitted his side cannot afford to squander opportunities.
Barcelona did not deliver a vintage performance that has been their hallmark for over a decade but came away from Old Trafford with a 1-0 win after the first leg of their quarter-final following Luke Shaw’s 12th-minute own goal.
United showed plenty of endeavour in attempting to equalise but failed to hit the target, with Diogo Dalot and Marcus Rashford both guilty of spurning decent opportunities when well placed.
Solskjaer knows opportunities will be at a premium when the teams meet again at the Nou Camp next Tuesday but is optimistic they can upset the odds – as they did last time out when overturning a two-goal deficit against Paris St Germain.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 10, 2019
Barcelona’s ground holds a special place in Solskjaer’s heart after his last-gasp goal there sealed United’s famous Treble almost 20 years ago, leading the Norwegian to say: “We’ve scored goals at the Nou Camp before from corners and crosses.
“Of course the PSG performance away gives us hope and belief that we can do it. But we know that we are playing against the favourites in the tournament.
“Going to the Nou Camp is going to be a challenge and it will be a greater achievement winning that one because with the history of Barcelona as well, they’re not used to losing at home.
“But we can do it, no doubt about it, we know we can carry a goal threat.
“We created a couple of very good opportunities, Rashy had a volley after a cross that got punched out, Diogo had a great chance at the back post.
“We have to take our chances, you have to be very, very effective and efficient over there. We know we’re not going to create loads of chances so we have to take the ones we get.”
United have only scored once in the Champions League at home this season, a statistic Solskjaer blanches at but one that he feels is unimportant for now.
He added: “We cannot defend not scoring goals at home. But away from home we’ve beaten Juventus, we’ve beaten PSG, we have to go to Barcelona and win that one.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 10, 2019
“We know we have possibilities in this tie, now is not the time to think about our home performances because now we’ve got to look forward to Tuesday.”
Solskjaer thinks Barcelona were fortunate to finish with their full complement, with Sergio Busquets particularly fortunate to stay on the field following some robust challenges.
He said: “Definitely yes (Busquets should have been sent off). There’s nothing we can do about it. I can’t complain about the referee. We haven’t had any homers, if you put it that way.”
Barca’s only concern came in the first half when Lionel Messi, who was kept largely subdued, was unintentionally caught by a trailing arm from Chris Smalling.
Messi’s nose was left bloodied by the collision but he finished the match, and Barca coach Ernesto Valverde revealed the Argentinian will be assessed on Thursday.
He added of his side’s win: “I feel good taking into account that we are going away with a decent result, (it leaves a) good taste in the mouth.
“We know it’s a tight result. There is a second game to come, we know they can react away from home and they did well against PSG.
“It was a very tough game, what we expected. There were moments where we suffered but we are happy.”