Barcelona seizes upper hand in Champions League quarterfinal against Manchester United

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/374734/" data-ylk="slk:Luis Suarez">Luis Suarez</a> celebrates after <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/barcelona/" data-ylk="slk:Barcelona">Barcelona</a>'s goal against <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/manchester-united/" data-ylk="slk:Manchester United">Manchester United</a> on Wednesday. (Associated Press)
Luis Suarez celebrates after Barcelona's goal against Manchester United on Wednesday. (Associated Press)

In a game that initially lived up to the hype and then tapered off, Barcelona forced Manchester United into an early own goal and won 1-0 at Old Trafford in Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg.

A great ball in from Sergio Busquets guided Lionel Messi into the left side of the box, and his ingenuitive decision to play back across goal for Luis Suarez led to a header that was accidentally knocked in by United defender Luke Shaw:

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As expected, the Red Devils grew into the game after that, but couldn’t produce an equalizer at the other end. There were a pair of penalty shouts – one for an alleged Busquets handball that looked eerily similar to the call that helped United reach the quarterfinals, the other for Gerard Pique appearing to foul Scott McTominay in the box – but the appeals fell on deaf ears.

The first half was an entertaining affair, with Barcelona dominating the early run of play and fortifying possession around United’s defensive third. The goal came decidedly amid the run of play, and perhaps Barca let its foot off the gas a bit after securing the away goal rather quickly.

United’s thinking and approach were sound for much of the match, attempting quick and heady build-ups that regularly seemed to be a few feet away from fruition. The hosts certainly didn’t back down from Barcelona, best evidenced by Messi’s bloodying at the hands of Chris Smalling late in the first half:

Apart from the penalty claims, the game didn’t really settle into a groove in the second half, and ultimately Barcelona was able to leave with an advantage heading back to the Nou Camp.

The loss is just the second in 15 homes matches across all competitions for Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The first came against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16, which United overturned in stunning fashion.

As impressive as that was, PSG missed Neymar and still lacks the wherewithal to grind out Champions League results when it really needs them.

That’s not Barcelona. United, the ball is firmly at your feet.

Joey Gulino is the editor of Yahoo Soccer and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

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