Manchester United progress after dramatic night in Paris
Manchester United have reached the Champions League Quarter Finals after overturning a two-goal deficit away from home to Paris Saint Germain.
No team has ever progressed after losing 2-0 at home in the first leg, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men won 3-1, with the aid of an opinion-splitting 93rd minute VAR penalty that was coolly dispatched by Marcus Rashford.
United got off to the perfect start when Timo Kehrer’s sloppy back-pass allowed Lukaku to ghost in on goal, go around the on-rushing Gianluigi Buffon and slot home on two minutes.
PSG responded excellently, and after 12 minutes they were level and had one foot firmly in the quarter-finals. Kylian Mbappe’s clever run allowed him to square the ball across the six-yard-box for Juan Bernat to tap in unchallenged.
The Parisians then laid siege to the Manchester United goal, with Bernat missing a very presentable chance to kill the tie. United couldn’t fashion anything resembling an attacking move, until Marcus Rashford took a pot shot from 30 yards which bounced on the rain-soaked turf just in front of Buffon.
The keeper spilled it and Lukaku pounced to prod the ball into the empty net on the half hour mark. From nowhere the momentum was back with United. At half-time United needed one more goal to progress.
The second half was almost all PSG pressure. Di Maria executed a delightful chip but was correctly ruled offside.
In the third of three added minutes, Diogo Dalot shot from 20 yards out and the ball struck the elbow of Presnel Kimpembe. A corner was given, but a VAR check was already underway. It took over two minutes, but eventually a penalty was given.
A 21-year-old Marcus Rashford boldly stepped up and dispatched the penalty past Buffon, who at 41-years-old is almost double the strikers age.
The United team rushed over to the travelling fans in euphoria, having manged to do what no other team has done before. The reds finished the game with four academy graduates on the pitch, including debutant Mason Greenwood, who is aged 17 years and 156 years. This makes him the youngest player to ever appear in the Champions League for Manchester United, breaking Gerard Pique’s record.
This is a result which has in the eyes of many made Solskjaer the permanent manger. He has now delivered 14 victories in 17 games, with only one defeat. It seems a question of when he will be appointed, not if. He said of the victory: “It’s this club. It’s what we do, that’s Man United.”
Solskjaer also has confidence going forward, saying: “We can go all the way. Of course we fancy ourselves, but we just have to wait for the draw and take each game as it comes.”
The party will have to be brief for the United players and staff, as they go to Arsenal on Sunday in what could be a decisive game in the race for a top four place.