Alexis Sanchez was among Manchester United‘s travelling contingent as they bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.
The Chilean has been sidelined for the last six weeks because of a knee injury but could return to bolster an attack that failed to register a shot on target in last week’s defeat at Old Trafford.
Midfielder Nemanja Matic and full-back Matteo Darmian were also part of the 22-man squad heading out to Barcelona on Monday morning but Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly miss out.
But it is the inclusion of Sanchez, who scored 47 times in 141 appearances during three seasons with Barca between 2011 and 2014, that could prove a talking point at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s press conference later on Monday.
The 30-year-old has struggled to hit top form since signing for United in January 2018 and, even though several injuries have hampered his progress, a haul of five goals in 41 appearances represents a miserable return.
Luke Shaw has travelled with his team-mates despite the full-back being suspended for the Nou Camp clash after being cautioned against the LaLiga champions last week.
United will be aiming to come from behind for the second time in a row in Europe’s elite club competition, having seen off Paris St Germain in the last 16 despite trailing by two goals after the first leg.
Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp penalty sealed a memorable 3-1 victory at the Parc des Princes last month, although the United striker is wary of putting too much emphasis on that result.
He said: “We’ll always take confidence from that but we also understand that it’s not PSG, it’s a different match, a different atmosphere, it’s a completely different ball game.
“We go there confident but if we’re going to win it’s probably going to be different to how we did it in Paris.
“For us now we need to forget about the past. We know we’ve done it before, but all the focus has to be on how we’re going to do it again because they’re a strong team.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba reached a personal milestone after he scored a brace to help his team beat West Ham 2-1.
The Frenchman scored twice from the spot to take his tally to 13 goals this season. When coupled with his nine assists, Pogba now has been involved in 22 goals in the Premier League this season. He has never been involved in more goals in a season during his career.
His previous best tally dates way back to the 2015/16 campaign when he scored eight goals and recorded 12 assists for Juventus in Serie A.
At United, his numbers had peaked in 2017/18 season. The Frenchman netted six goals and made 10 in that campaign.
Pogba is enjoying statistically his best season yet and has five more games to take it further.
Seven of the goals he has scored in the league this season have come from the penalty spot and he has clearly made the best of being the primary penalty taker for United.
The midfielder has been crucial to United’s resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the team needs him at the top of his game, should they hope to finish in the top four.
A brace of penalties from Paul Pogba – either side of Felipe Anderson’s leveller – lifted United above Arsenal and into fifth in the Premier League table, two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
However, Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini questioned the awarding of both spot-kicks and rued Anderson having a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside when the score was goalless.
Solskjaer, who made five changes to his line-up ahead of the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Barcelona on Tuesday, did not speak about the questionable decisions.
But he said afterwards: “Sometimes you get more than what you deserve and today was one of those nights.
“We were lucky it wasn’t Barcelona on the other side, but West Ham played well, played better than us, created chances.
“It evens itself out in the long run. We were lucky to get away with the three points – even a draw at one point I would have taken.
“You can go through all sorts, but (the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona in midweek) was hard, physically, mentally.
“We have a game on Tuesday so I had to make a couple of decisions. I didn’t make it easy for the boys because I made changes.
“Two were forced, the full-backs (Luke Shaw and Ashley Young) were suspended. Scott (McTominay) was fantastic in midweek but we needed a big performance from him again and I didn’t think mentally he was ready. (Marcus Rashford) was not 100 per cent ready.”
Solskjaer feels the Champions League scheduling did his side no favours.
He added: “I don’t understand that. Someone needs to explain to me why Wednesday night then becomes a Tuesday night in the Champions League the next week.
“The other teams played Tuesday night and then have Wednesday night, one day extra before and one day extra after.
“That’s a strange one. We tried to Google it but we couldn’t. That’s a strange decision and of course that would have made it different for us, I wouldn’t have made so many changes.”
Diogo Dalot’s trailing leg looked to play Anderson onside before the Brazilian rifled past David De Gea.
But the offside flag came to United’s rescue and it was the hosts who went ahead in the 19th minute through Pogba’s 19th-minute spot-kick, given despite seemingly minimal contact from Robert Snodgrass on Juan Mata just inside the area.
Anderson levelled with a sliding finish four minutes after the resumption, while substitute Michail Antonio rattled the bar before his downward header was clawed away by De Gea as West Ham looked for a winner.
Hammers boss Pellegrini felt Anthony Martial was offside as he ran through on goal before being upended inside the box by Ryan Fredericks.
Pogba, who eschewed his stuttering run-up in favour of a more traditional approach with both his penalties, netted the resulting spot-kick.
Pellegrini acknowledged the decisions that went in favour of United were close calls for referee Graham Scott and his assistants.
He said: “I’m frustrated of course because I think we deserved more. It was a pleasure to see the team playing the way we did against Manchester United in their own stadium.
“Unfortunately for us there were some decisions, they were very difficult so I am not complaining about him.
“But with VAR, I am sure we would win the game 1-0. Felipe Anderson was onside. It was not a penalty from Robert. The last goal from Man United was offside, the last pass. A few mistakes but the decisions went for United.”