Barcelona fought back to earn a 2-2 draw with Manchester United in a pulsating Europa League knockout round playoff first leg on Thursday.

United were the better side for large parts of the game and controlled the tempo but were denied by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen who made three outstanding saves in the first half.

LaLiga leaders Barcelona struck first, five minutes after the break, when Marcos Alonso scored with a towering header at the far post from a corner.

Marcus Rashford levelled three minutes later following a counter-attack down the left, slotting home a smart low finish between Ter Stegen and the near post.

The in-form Rashford also created United’s second, sprinting into the box from a short corner and delivering a low cross into a crowded six-yard area where the ball deflected into the goal off defender Jules Kounde.

United players and manager Erik ten Hag complained strongly after what looked like a clear foul by last-man Kounde on Rashford just outside the box, an infringement that should have produced a red card for the French international.

Barcelona dug deep to grab the equaliser, however, and mistakes by United’s defence gifted the ball on the edge of their box to Raphinha whose cross eluded David de Gea and went into the net.

Results and fixtures for the UEFA Europa League on Thursday (start times are CET)
Knockout Round Play-offs

Ajax (0) 0 Union Berlin (0) 0
…. aggregate: 0-0
Salzburg (0) 1 Roma (0) 0
…. aggregate: 1-0
Salzburg win
Barcelona (0) 2 Manchester United (0) 2
…. aggregate: 2-2
Shakhtar Donetsk (2) 2 Rennes (0) 1
…. aggregate: 2-1
Shakhtar Donetsk win
Bayer Leverkusen v Monaco (21:00)
Sevilla v PSV (21:00)
Juventus v Nantes (21:00)
Sporting CP v Midtjylland (21:00)