SPORTS

81,807 watch Man U beat Barcelona at FedEx Field

FC Barcelona's Thiago Alcantara, right, tries to get the ball past Manchester United goalie David De Gea. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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LANDOVER, Maryland (AP) - Michael Owen scored on a counterattack in the 76th minute to give Manchester United a 2-1 victory over FC Barcelona on Saturday night.

Nani also scored early for United, which exacted a measure of revenge in a preseason exhibition that doubled as a rematch of Barcelona's 3-1 victory in last May's Champions League final.

Thiago tied it for Barcelona in front of 81,807 at FedEx Field, the largest soccer crowd in Washington-area history.

Tom Cleverley set up Owen's goal, stealing Sergio Busquets' pass in midfield, streaking toward goal, and then slipping a pass to Owen just in time to keep the forward onside.

Owen chipped the ball over Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who had rushed out to close the angle.

After a sluggish first half, Barcelona dominated the second until Owen's goal.

Thiago gave the defending Spanish league champions a deserved tying goal in the 70th minute, blasting a shot into the top right corner from about 23 yards out.

Nani put United, last year's Premier League winners, ahead on a similar goal to Owen's. Danny Welbeck collected the ball in midfield, charged forward, and then found Nani alone, who drove a low finish past Valdes in the 22nd minute.

Friendly or not, the rematch had a big-time atmosphere, complete with a halftime appearance from Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

Thousands of fans arrived several hours before kickoff, turning parking lots into a swirling mass of maroon and blue, red and black.

Barcelona's fans were in the majority, chanting "Barca! Barca! Barca!" as early as 45 minutes before kickoff, chants which eventually echoed throughout the stadium during the match's early stages.

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