Owen strikes as United beat Barca

Michael Owen netted a 76th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Barcelona 2-1 in Saturday's friendly in front of 81,807 in Washington DC.

Last Updated: 01/08/11 at 09:17 Post Comment   

Owen: Celebrates winning goal

Owen: Celebrates winning goal

Nine weeks after being completely outplayed in the Champions League final, United experienced the winning feeling against Barca this time round.

Owen secured victory 14 minutes from time in front of a record crowd at FedEx Field, not long after Thiago had pulled Barca level with a magnificent curling strike.

Nani had put Sir Alex Ferguson's men into a 22nd-minute lead with a neat finish and Owen's clip over Victor Valdes after collecting Tom Cleverley's neat pass ensured United ended their five-match US tour with a 100% record.

It had been suggested the game represented some kind of revenge mission for the Red Devils.

That was not possible given Ferguson retained only three members of his starting line-up from that miserable May night.

Pep Guardiola's side was more recognisable, with six players keeping their places, and three of the other five, including Lionel Messi, were not available due to their recent stints at Copa America.

Wayne Rooney scored United's goal at Wembley and he should have put the Premier League champions in front when he met Nani's low cross at the near post but prodded wide.

Rafael was replaced by twin brother Fabio after failing to recover from a knock sustained in a crunching tackle on Seydou Keita.

It did not disrupt United too much though and when Danny Welbeck collected possession just inside the Barcelona half, Nani timed his run to perfection, sprinting onto the through ball, then dispatching his shot through the legs of Valdes.

Ibrahim Afellay should have done better than drag his shot across the face of David de Gea's goal after being set up 10 minutes before the break.

Indeed, De Gea had been relatively unemployed on his first significant appearance since his £18million summer arrival from Atletico Madrid.

Certainly, the sublime passing game with which Barca have mesmerised United in two of the past three European Cup finals was missing.

Ferguson made three changes at the break, in the process ending a satisfactory trip for Rooney, who looks certain to make a more sustained impact than last season.

Nani has rather more to prove given his omission from Ferguson's cup final starting line-up and, restored to his preferred right-wing role, seems determined to atone for his disappointment.

Barca are a week further back in their preparations but in Thiago have a player who has started pre-season in flying form.

Scorer of both goals in his side's Audi Cup win over Bayern Munich on Wednesday, the young midfielder is a class act.

Little wonder questions are being asked why Barca require Cesc Fabregas if they have such a talented alternative to their main men.

And the goal which levelled the game 18 minutes from time was spellbinding, a magnificent curling shot with the outside of his right foot that gave De Gea no chance.

Penalties loomed but Owen had other ideas, beating Valdes in fine style after being sent through by Cleverley.

The former England striker should have made certain in stoppage time but lifted Gabriel Obertan's cross over a completely open goal.

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