Superb performance by Manchester United is capped by late Marcus Rashford winner to get their Champions League Group H campaign off to the perfect start
Marcus Rashford delivered again for Manchester United against Paris Saint-Germain as his late strike sealed a 2-1 win in the Champions League group stages.
After scoring the decisive injury-time penalty in their Champions League quarter-final comeback win two seasons ago, Rashford scored with three minutes remaining on Tuesday to reward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men with a richly deserved three points.
Bruno Fernandes had given the visitors the lead (23) from the penalty spot with a retaken effort after Keylor Navas had encroached whilst saving the original effort. An unfortunate Anthony Martial own goal (55) drew an off-colour PSG level but United were the better side in Paris.
They executed their tactics brilliantly to quell the threat of last year’s Champions League runners-up with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe expertly marshalled by Axel Tuanzebe, who was making his first start since 2019.
The defeat was PSG’s first home defeat in the Champions League group stages since 2004.
PSG: Keylor Navas (7), Florenzi (6), Diallo (5), Kimpembe (6), Kurzawa (6); Gueye (5), Danilo (6), Ander Herrera (6), Di Maria (6), Mbappe (5), Neymar (5)
Subs: Kean (5), Rafinha (5), Sarabia (5)
Man Utd: De Gea (8), Wan-Bissaka (8), Lindelof (7), Tuanzebe (8), Shaw (7), Telles (7), Fred (7), McTominay (8), Fernandes (7), Rashford (8), Martial (7)
Subs: Pogba (7), Van De Beek (N/A), James (N/A)
Man of the match: Axel Tuanzebe
How United shone in Paris…
After a season away from the Champions League, United returned to action at the Parc des Princes, where just 19 months ago they became the first team in Champions League history to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit away from home.
United looked convincing and well drilled in a 3-5-2 formation with Luke Shaw playing as part of a back three with Scott McTominay and Fred protecting their defence with great authority.
Despite starting well, David de Gea had to be at his best to firstly palm away an Angel Di Maria drive before bravely denying Layvin Kurzawa from point-blank range.
Martial and Rashford – playing as a front two – always looked to have the beating of the PSG defence and the Frenchman drew a foul off Abdou Diallo inside the area with a clever change of pace.
Stand-in skipper Fernandes saw his penalty saved for the second successive match, but held his nerve to find the net after the VAR ordered a retake for Navas straying off his line.
Although they looked below their free-flowing best, PSG and Mbappe came to the party just after half-time with a wonderful strike from the edge of the area but De Gea stood up to the challenge with a fantastic flying save.
Kurzawa then saw a cross clip the bar, before the hosts fortuitously drew level. A furiously whipped in corner from Neymar was attacked by Martial but he lost his bearings in a big way, heading past a helpless De Gea.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the brilliant Tuanzebe were in unbeatable mood despite the presence of Neymar and Mbappe as United continued to play intelligently, with Martial heading just over and Rashford flashing off target for the visitors.
Solskjaer sent on Paul Pogba for the final quarter, sensing the game was there to be won. Navas then brilliantly tipped a Rashford shot wide and, after Fernandes missed the target, denied the England striker again.
But Rashford had the final say. At the same end at which he scored the winning penalty on his last visit, he drilled an effort into the bottom corner with three minutes remaining to secure United a 2-1 win.
Man of the match: Axel Tuanzebe
This was a phenomenal performance considering the last football match this man played came against Colchester in the EFL Cup 10 months ago. That day he marked Frank Nouble, here, he was tasked with marking Neymar and Mbappe, arguably the two most dangerous forwards in world football. He had them both in his pocket. Yes, they were perhaps a little below par of their usual standard but Tuanzebe looked like he had been bossing Champions League games his whole life. Filled with pace, power and excellent positioning, the defender twice stopped a full-flowing Mbappe from charging onto his goal with strong last-ditch defensive play. Harry Maguire may struggle to get back in this team.
What the managers said
PSG boss Thomas Tuchel: “It was not possible for us to win today. I don’t know why we lacked rhythm and intensity, it was surprising. In the first half we were not strong enough, we did not play together enough. Then we were better after the break but it was hard not to do better considering how we played in the first half.
“The game was too open, we failed to control it.
“We created this midfield who were playing for the first time together, it was not easy.”
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “We win against a fantastic team, last time was knockout and the euphoria was different this time there are no fans, it is sterile and no-one to celebrate with.
“We know that when you go away against a team like this against players like Neymar and Mbappe, we know we have to defend well.
“We know that to get through you probably need 10 points, next week’s game against Leipzig will be very, very important for us.
“We have Chelsea and Arsenal after – we have so many games I’m happy I have so many good players to choose from.”
- Paris Saint-Germain suffered a home defeat in a Champions League group game for the first time in 25 games (W19 D5) since losing 1-3 to CSKA Moscow in December 2004.
- Since the start of last season, Manchester United have been awarded 27 penalties in all competitions, scoring 22 of them, both highs among sides in Europe’s big five leagues in that time.
- Martial is the second French player to an own-goal in the Champions League against French opposition, after Jeremy Mathieu for Barcelona also against Paris Saint-Germain in April 2015.
- Rashford’s last three Champions League goals for Manchester United have all come away from home, with the last two netted at Parc des Princes.
- PSG’s Neymar has failed to score in four consecutive Champions League appearances for the first time since November 2013 (his first five games in the competition).
United are back in Premier League action on Saturday with a fixture with Chelsea at 5:30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event. RB Leipzig await them next Wednesday in the Champions League while PSG play Istanbul Buyuksehir on the same evening.