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Barça will be going to Old Trafford next week with absolutely nothing decided after the first leg ended 2-2 and with away goals no longer counting in UEFA competitions. And they can take heart from the fact that historically they have typically progressed after the first leg of a European fixture ended 2-2. In fact, of the nine times that this scenario has arisen, they have only ever been knocked out once:
1959-60 (European Cup) v CSKA Sofia 2–2 (A), 6–2 (H)
1960-61 (European Cup) v Real Madrid 2–2 (A), 2–1 (H)
1968-69 (CWC) v FC Köln 2–2 (A), 4–1 (H)
1976-77 (UEFA Cup) v Beleneses 2–2 (A), 3–2 (H)
1977-78 (CWC) v Aston Villa 2–2 (A), 2–1 (H)
1995-96 (UEFA Cup) v PSV Eindhoven 2–2 (H), 3–2 (A)
1995-96 (UEFA Cup) v Bayern Munich 2–2 (A), 1–2 (H)
2009-10 (UCL) v Arsenal 2–2 (A), 4–1 (H)
2012-13 (UCL) v PSG 2–2 (A), 1–1 (H)
Elimination by Bayern
That single case was in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup in 1996, when Barça failed to capitalise on a 2-2 draw in Bavaria because they went on to lose 2-1 at home.
The most famous case of all the eight wins was the one in 1961, when Barça became the first team to knock Real Madrid out of the European Cup, winning 2-1 at home after the first leg at the Bernabéu had ended 2-2.
There have also been two cases where the first leg ended 2-2 against English teams. Those were against Aston Villa in the old Cup Winners' Cup and against Arsenal in the modern Champions League era. Barça went on to qualify both times, the latter thanks to a veritable exhibition by Leo Messi in the return leg.
Just one first leg at home
Curiously, of those nine different precedents, there was just one when the first leg was played at Camp Nou. That was earlier on in the very same edition of the UEFA Cup that ended in defeat to Bayern. Barça had drawn 2-2 at home with PSV, but went on to win 3-2 in the Netherlands.
Of course, the fact that in the other eight cases, Barça played the second leg at home is a factor to be borne in mind. It's one thing to draw away and then enjoy home advantage in the second leg, and something else entirely to draw at home and then need to get a result on the road.
The previous examples also differ in that away goals were a factor, but since UEFA changed the rules, that is no longer the case. That said, there is only one case in the list where away goals were ultimately a factor. In all the others, Barça won the second leg outright.
In 2013, Barça drew 2-2 away to PSG and then 1-1 in the Catalan capital. They qualified thanks to scoring two goals in Paris, but that would mean nothing under current regulations. Extra time and possibly penalties would be needed.
Need to win in Manchester
The absence of away goals is likely to work in Barça's favour this time. Two goals away from home would have left Man United in the driving seat going into Thursday's second leg. But not any more. Effectively the two teams are going into the second leg with a clean slate. If the game at Old Trafford ends in a draw, we're going into extra time no matter how many goals the teams scored at home or away.
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