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Saturday, 2 September 2017

Legends: United 2 Barcelona 2 (Agg:5-3)

Legends match | Old Trafford | Scorers: van Nistelrooy 14pen, Webber 43 | Luis Garcia 78, Mendieta 81 (Agg: 5-3 to United)

Manchester United's Legends squandered a 2-0 lead at the break to draw 2-2 with Barcelona but still won 5-3 on aggregate following the first-leg triumph at the Nou Camp.

An entertaining affair began brightly with Ruud van Nistelrooy soon on the scoresheet. The deadly Dutchman dispatched a penalty past Jesus Angoy in characteristically clinical fashion after Frederic Dehu fouled Karel Poborsky.

The unerring finish set the hosts on the way but Barça responded well, despite Ji-sung Park providing plenty of energy in midfield, Dion Dublin impressing at the back and Dwight Yorke performing a deeper role than usual. 

Edgar Davids tricked his way past Park after a one-two with Patrick Kluivert, only to fire just wide, while Dublin's defensive header had to be fielded by Edwin van der Sar.

Van Nistelrooy managed to get his head to a deep cross by Mikael Silvestre, but it proved too difficult to steer on target, and Angoy blocked when Yorke combined superbly with Jesper Blomqvist. The Catalans hit back with Luis Garcia unable to convert a Davids centre and Goikoetxea hitting the outside of a post from long range.

Gaizka Mendieta's well-struck drive just did not bend in enough and his side fell further behind when Webber sprung the offside trap to latch onto a Wes Brown through ball. The speedy substitute, on for the injured Louis Saha, sat Angoy down before dinking a cheeky finish over the grounded keeper that rolled into the net.

One of the best moves of the game led to Webber sending a diving header wide, following fine work by Blomqvist and van Nistelrooy, as United ended the half in the ascendancy. After the break, Yorke forced a one-handed stop out of Angoy and van Nistelrooy also worked the keeper with a clever attempt but Barça also created chances.

Luis Garcia had already volleyed off target when Ronnie Johnsen got back to dispossess him with a wonderful piece of defending. Webber remained a threat at the other end, and had a goal rightly disallowed for offside, with the Reds seemingly cruising to victory.

However, two goals inside three minutes changed all that. Simao Sabrosa bent a drive onto the inside of a post and, with Raimond van der Gouw on the deck, Luis Garcia was left with a simple finish into an empty net with his left foot. When Yorke was robbed of the ball in a dangerous area, Mendieta pounced to round van der Gouw and tap in the equaliser.

Webber curled wide and Poborsky was denied late on as Andy Cole's men sought a winner but the 2-2 draw still meant a 5-3 aggregate triumph. The Reds collected the trophy in front of an appreciative crowd on another memorable day for the Manchester United Foundation, with more vital funds raised for local charities.

United: van der Sar (van der Gouw 58); Johnsen, Brown, Dublin (Thornley 49); Park, Poborsky, Yorke, Silvestre; Blomqvist (Djordjic 49), Saha (Webber 35); van Nistelrooy (Beardsmore 71). Sub not used: Irwin.

Barcelona: Angoy, Belletti (Sanchez Jara 62), Edmilson (Davids 58), Dehu (Simao 59), Abidal, Davids (Mateu 46, Mendieta 69)), Sergi (Luis Garcia 33), Mendieta (Sergi 45), Simao (Aloisio), Kluivert (Mendieta 58), Goikoetxea (Moreno 39 (Goikoetxea 69)). Sub not used: Guzman.

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