Anything possible but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tones down significance of 1999 Champions League final

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attempted to tone down the significance of the 1999 Champions League final but the Manchester United manager feels the fixture proved anything is possible in football.

Solskjaer claimed a special place in the hearts of United supporters 20 years ago when his last-gasp strike against Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou sealed an unforgettable treble.

Now the club’s manager, the Norwegian returned to the ground on Monday as his side bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Barcelona.

Yet Solskjaer refused to dwell too much on the past and is fully focused on the task at hand, urging his side to believe they can prevail against the Spanish champions on Tuesday night.

He said: “Of course it’s a fantastic memory for me. It’s the only time I’ve been on the pitch, but I don’t really look back on that night too often.

“My job now is to make us play better than in the first game.

“I was a player back then. In football anything can happen at any time and we know that we can still be in this tie.

Solskjaer celebrates his memorable winner in 99.

Solskjaer celebrates his memorable winner in 99.

“It’s about the quality though. We need to defend well but going forward we need to score. If we keep a clean sheet, we can still be in the tie in the 93rd minute.”

Solskjaer thinks his players should be emboldened by their fightback against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.

Following a 2-0 loss at Old Trafford, United responded in spectacular fashion with a 3-1 victory at the Parc des Princes to progress on away goals last month.

Solskjaer recognises the abilities of a Barcelona side who have won four European Cups since 2006 but remains in a bullish mood.

He said: “That memory from PSG will help the players, will help us as a team. We know we can turn things round.

“Of course Barcelona here at the Camp Nou is a difficult prospect but the memory from that night will live with the players.

“It’s not that long ago and we’re one goal better off.”

Alexis Sanchez was among United’s 22-man travelling contingent and is in contention to make a return against his former club after six weeks on the sidelines because of a knee injury.

The Chilean, who scored 47 times in 141 appearances during three seasons with Barca between 2011 and 2014, has endured a largely miserable time at United as a haul of five goals in 41 games would suggest.

Solskjaer said: “For Alexis it’s a big night and when he’s on the pitch I’m sure he wants to prove a point.

“He wants to prove a point for us as well. He’s been injured, he’s not had a fantastic season so far and let’s hope he can end the season great for us.

“We are in the business end of the season, we’re playing games that Man United are used to playing.

“Let’s hope Alexis can be happy with his performance when he is on the pitch.”

Solskjaer reaffirmed his belief that Paul Pogba will remain at United beyond the end of the season after the Spanish media questioned speculation linking the Frenchman with a summer move to Real Madrid.

Solskjaer added: “Paul’s focus is on Man United and performing here.

“He has been fantastic since I’ve come here and I’ve no doubt that he will perform for Man United as he has done lately.

“I don’t think they (the fans) should worry too much.”

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Alexis Sanchez returns to Barcelona as surprise inclusion in Man United squad

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Alexis Sanchez

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

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Manchester United star Paul Pogba sets personal milestone with brace against West Ham

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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.

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