Ten Hag’s Man United side drew 2-2 with Barcelona in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie on Thursday evening.
Barcelona manager Xavi congratulated Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag after the two sides drew 2-2 in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie on Thursday night.
Ten Hag‘s men started the game on the front foot and enjoyed a productive first half, however, the away side fell behind in the 50th minute. Former Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso headed home from close range. Despite going a goal down, United responded well and levelled proceedings through Marcus Rashford just two minutes later.
It was the Reds who got the next goal to take a 2-1 lead, with a low-driven cross from Rashford deflecting off Jules Kounde and past Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal. United appeared as though they were heading towards a famous victory at Camp Nou, but Raphinha made it 2-2 in the 76th minute.
United welcome Barcelona to Old Trafford for the second leg of the tie next Thursday, with the game perfectly poised at 2-2. With the away goals rule no longer in force, the winner of the reverse clash will progress.
After the match, Xavi was full of praise for Ten Hag and his side, suggesting that United are “coming back”, while also insisting that the Reds made it difficult for the home side throughout the encounter.
“It was a really tough game, really difficult, with a lot of intensity, passion, rhythm,” Xavi told BT Sport. “We have to be proud because we compete really well until the end. We could have won in the last two chances but we played today against a top team in Europe.
“I think Manchester is coming back, and today they showed their best version. We compete really well, we need to be proud, and now we need to compete well in Old Trafford.”
He added: “I think both teams are in more or less in the same moment, same position, that we are coming back. I said to Ten Hag now congratulations because he is doing very well and they are Manchester United, so yes, it can be a final or semi-final or quarter-final in the future of the Champions League, but now we are in Europa League.
“We are coming back and today we showed a very best performance, both teams.”