It was no more than they deserved. Manchester United were the better side in Paris on Tuesday night. Hungrier, more ambitious, diligent. And in Marcus Rashford they have a match-winner of the highest order. He did it for them in the Parc De Princes two years ago; and he did it again.
There were three minutes left when Paul Pogba held the ball up on the edge of the area, shielding the ball and feeding Rashford in a dangerous corridor. Suddenly, he came to life, bursting through and finishing with a shot across the body of Keylor Navas. No Champions League group game has been lost here for 24 matches. Yet PSG looked insipid and slow. Lazy, too. Neymar was actually walking away from the play as Rashford scored the winner.
Really, they shouldn’t have been in the game at all. Tony Martial scored again last night, but nobody will be singing songs about this one.
Marcus Rashford was the match winner for Manchester United in Paris again as his late goal sealed a deserved victory
The England star burst past his man before thumping the ball with precision right into the corner past Keylor Navas
It capped off a marvelous performance from United, who became first side to win a group game at PSG in 24 matches
A header from a corner, straight into his own net, that looked like to deny Manchester United a deserved three points. Some actions defy explanation and this was one. Martial was under little pressure. Quite why he chose to steer his header back towards his goal is a mystery. David De Gea had no chance. Only a team-mate could beat him. No opponent looked capable all night. A 15 minute spell in the second-half aside, Paris St Germain were very disappointing.
The closest they had come was the passage of play before the goal, culminating in a slightly miscued cross from full-back Layvin Kurzawa that ended up hitting the bar. The ball eventually went off for a corner and it was that dead ball, struck by Neymar, that Martial sent powerfully past the luckless De Gea.
He had been outstanding all night. PSG, for all the marquee names in the forward line, did not offer much – but when they did De Gea was all over it. Neymar barely created a chance, Kylian Mbappe very little, but one shot in the 47th minute, cutting past two defenders forced the save of the night.
Stars of the show were Manchester United’s patched-up defence, all of whom were outstanding, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team had enough chances to win long before the conclusion. When United famously won here two seasons ago – the result that probably got Solskjaer the job on a permanent basis – PSG were arguably the better side. That wasn’t the case last night.
It has gotten off to the perfect start when Bruno Fernandes reliably strokes into the corner from the penalty spot
Fernandes showed some nerve to score his penalty, having seen his first saved before it was ordered to be re-taken
PSG were furious but highlights showed they could not have any complaints with Navas well off his line before saving
Navas made at least as many good saves as De Gea, including a quite brilliant one from Rashford in the 69th minute. Martial also went close with a header in the second-half, which was ironic.
Without a doubt the 6-1 reversal against Tottenham had a profound effect on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Out went Paul Pogba, and any other player unprepared to pull his weight, in came the workers, like Scott McTominay, players that can be relied upon to track their man, to run the hard yards. Manchester United may lack a certain stellar quality now, but they dogged Paris St Germain throughout the first-half here, and last season’s Champions League finalists lacked the v verve to counter that.
It was a solid start by Manchester United, but dismal from PSG. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, far from stretching the player, seemed to operate in each other’s pockets, culminating just before half-time when an Mbappe shot stuck Neymar on the back as he darted in front, and went out for a goal-kick. What was he doing taking that line? It made no sense.
PSG were sluggish in the first half but David De Gea still had to make a brilliant save to deny Layvin Kurzawa from point blank
Axel Tuanzebe was one of United’s standout performers, keeping the usually brilliant Kylian Mbappe mostly quiet all night
PSG came out much better after the break and were soon back on level terms when Anthony Martial headed into his own net
The hosts celebrated after a good bit of fortune had given them a way back into a game they had been deservedly losing
Little of PSG’s gameplan did. They had a brief spell after 12 minutes in which they looked dangerous, but much of their approach player was ponderous and easily repelled, even by a makeshift United defence. And when they got through, David De Gea was equal to it all.
He has his critics but on nights like this, wet and greasy in Paris, De Gea can still look an assuredly safe sat of hands. When Angel Di Maria cut inside on to his favoured left foot, De Gea was equal to it, tipping the ball around. Then from the corner, when Mbappe whipped in a cross for Layvin Kurzawa in the six yard box, De Gea reacted well and bravely to repel again. It took another 32 minutes for PSG to test him, roles reversed this time, Kurzawa in for Mbappe, but De Gea clearing ably under pressure.
Yet while the French disappointed, United impressed. Some had feared for them here with a makeshift defence, Alex Telles on his debut and Axel Tuanzebe promoted into a central back three, but both men impressed. Telles was full of confidence at wing-back, at one stage completing more stepovers in a single move than Cristiano Ronaldo attempted in his first two seasons. As for Tuanzebe, one challenge up against Mbappe saw the striker bounce off him, provoking protests from Neymar that put him in referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz’s book. It was the one time PSG’s front pair combined in the entire first-half.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka made a superb last-ditch tackle to thwart Mbappe from scoring in the second half of Tuesday’s game
United had looked menacing going forward all night and Rashford picked out a corner with aplomb late on to restore the lead
Neymar had barely had a sighter all match and tried his luck late on from range but couldn’t trouble an inspired De Gea in goal
From the eighth minute, Manchester United exposed PSG’s uncertainty. A cross by Bruno Fernandes saw Abdou Diallo make a hash of the clearance, almost letting in Marcus Rashford. Soon after, Anthony Martial demonstrated great control to burst into the box, but his shot was wild and poor.
The next move, however, saw PSG crack. Luke Shaw – also impressive in a central defensive role – played a pass into Martial who was felled clumsily by Diallo as he turned. Fernandes missed his last penalty for United at Newcastle, but his record before that will not be forgotten quickly and up he stepped again. He did his little hop, skip and jump this time, struck it low to the right, but goalkeeper Keylor Navas was equal to it. These are changed times, though, meaning a VAR official in a windowless room had a look at it and declared Navas had moved off his line. He was right, Navas did. And as tough as it is on goalkeepers these days, those are the rules. So Fernandes retook, and held his nerve. Same approach, same place. Nevas blinked. He went the wrong way; and United were ahead.
They could have increased that lead before half-time, too. Fernandes had a low shot from 25 yards tipped out by Navas, while a Telles corner was missed by Victor Lindelof, falling to McTominay who was as surprised as anybody, and could not convert.
Their best chance came immediately after the restart, though, a Fernandes pass that, incredibly, left United breaking on goal, two on one. Full marks to Rashford for unselfishly trying to find Martial; no marks, however, for the quality of the pass, which was dismal.
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