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Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 21:48 GMT


Sport: Football

Brazilian magic denies United

Dwight Yorke was in superb form again

Barcelona 3 Manchester United 3

Manchester United and Barcelona again shared six goals in a second thrilling Champions League encounter between the two sides this season.


John Inverdale discusses the match (BBC Radio 5 Live)
The deadly duo of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were responsible for the English side's goals, but it was top class Brazilian forward play which denied them a win.

Sonny Anderson scored an early goal for the Catalan giants and World Cup star Rivaldo twice pulled the Spanish champions back level with stunning strikes.

The first was a beautifully curled free kick, the second a staggering overhead effort.

The goals prevented United from being only the second English side to beat Barcelona in the giant Nou Camp stadium.


[ image: Luis Figo proves a handful for Denis Irwin]
Luis Figo proves a handful for Denis Irwin
The night started appallingly for the Manchester team, with Barcelona one up with just 49 seconds on the clock.

United had made one change from the weekend defeat by Sheffield Wednesday with youngster Wes Brown replacing Phil Neville in the defence.

And United's backline had an uncertain look as the early goal was scored.

A speculative cross from the Barcelona left was only partially cleared by the head of Denis Irwin, and the ball fell to Sonny Anderson.

As Gary Neville tried to tackle the Brazilian, he turned and shot past Peter Schmeichel's outstretched left hand.


Yorke puts Utd ahead 3-2 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
The Dane was again called into action in the seventh minute when Rivaldo struck a shot which the Dane saved low to his left.

As United pushed forward, Barcelona repeatedly caught them on the counter attack, and on 23 minutes Anderson should have doubled their advantantage.


[ image: Dwight Yorke holds off Gbenga Okunowo]
Dwight Yorke holds off Gbenga Okunowo
But Schmeichel was quickly off his line to clear the danger and force Anderson's shot wide.

Barcelona were made to regret the miss just two minutes later as Jesper Blomqvist raced upfield and played the ball inside from the United left.

He found Yorke, who lashed the ball past Barca keeper Ruud Hesp from the edge of the area.

The goal was against the run of play, and before the half hour United had Schmeichel to thank again for twice keeping the home side out as no fewer than three forwards bore down on his goal.

But United began to come into the game and for a period the match was wonderfully open, as both defences backed away from the attacking talent on view.

There were no further goals before half time although it only took eight second half minutes for the first second half strike to arrive.


[ image: Cole on target with United's second]
Cole on target with United's second
Yorke turned creator, receiving a ball from Roy Keane and exchanging passes with Andy Cole to put the English striker in with a super ball inside.

Cole made no mistake to slot the ball past Ruud Hesp for his 14th European goal.

The lead lasted only four minutes, with Rivaldo curling a free kick around the United wall and past a wrong-footed Schmeichel.

United had another scare soon after as the ball was flashed across the penalty box and Gary Neville miscued a clearance for a corner.

Rivaldo also had a fierce shot parried by Schmeichel, before Yorke missed perhaps his best chance of the night.


Rivaldo scores the equaliser to make it 3-3 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
David Beckham played an inviting ball into the path of the striker but he could not control the header which went inches wide.

He made no mistake as Barcelona's defence again went to sleep just seconds later, and from an identical chance Yorke buried the header past Hesp.

Barcelona had Rivaldo to thank for bringing them back into the game again, with a second piece of Brazilian magic.

On 73 minutes, he controlled a cross from the left, and with Neville and Stam either side, let fly with a magnificent bicycle kick which Schmeichel could only stand and watch.


[ image: Dwight Yorke holds off Gbenga Okunowo]
Dwight Yorke holds off Gbenga Okunowo
He was unable to come any closer minutes later as the Brazilian hammered the ball against the crossbar from all of thirty yards.

But the Dane did save United with seven minutes to go, brilliantly rushing out to save a point blank effort from Giovanni.

Nicky Butt was brought on for Beckham in the closing stages as United looked to protect a hard won point.

That did not stop Andy Cole having one final chance to win it which Hesp saved with his foot.

The result keeps United in the hunt for the quarter-finals, but it puts injury-hit Barcelona out following Bayern Munich's 2-0 win at home to Brondby.

United face Bayern in a fortnight's time and United boss Alex Ferguson said: "I think it was always going to end up that we would have to win that match. We said before this game that unless we got a victory it would be down to winning our last game, and so it has turned out."

Barcelona: Hesp, Reiziger, Figo, Celades, Anderson, Giovanni, Rivaldo, Sergi, Okunowo, Zenden, Xavi. Subs: Arnau, Ciric, Roger, Mario, Cuadrado Alonso.

Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Stam, Beckham, Cole, Blomqvist, Keane, Scholes, Yorke, Brown. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Butt, P. Neville, Solskjaer, Berg, Curtis, Wilson.

Referee: G Benko (Austria)



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