It was always going to be an Herculean task for Manchester United in a game against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). The injury ravaged United side were not on the same level as the Parisiens in terms of quality though it can be pointed out that PSG had two big names in Neymar Junior and Edison Cavani out due to injury. The Red Devils had it worse with talisman Paul Pogba suspended for the tie after picking up a red card in the first leg which Manchester United lost 2:0 at home. Frenchman Anthony Martial, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera were also missing for United. The only thing Manchester United had going for them was being unbeaten in all 8 away games under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester United started with David De Gea in goal with Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling making up the back four. Scott McTominay was joined by Brazilian Andreas Pereira and Ashley Young in the middle. Romelu Lukaku was supported upfront by Marcus Rashford and Andreas Pereira. PSG named an unchanged side from the first leg with Gianluigi Buffon, Thilo Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Presnel Kimpembe, Juan Bernat, Marco Veratti, Marquinhos, Julien Draxler, Angel Di Maria, Dani Alves and wonder boy Kylian Mbappe making up their first XI.
The game had an unbelievable start with Romelu Lukaku taking advantage of a defensive error to give United a 1 nil lead as early as the 2nd minute. 10 minutes later PSG leveled scores through Juan Bernat making the game stand at 3:1 on aggregate in favour of the French side. Lukaku put United 2:1 up in the 30th minute with aggregate scores switching to 3:2 and though PSG was the better side with most of the chances created they also had the lion share of possession. A 3rd goal from United would have meant a 3:3 aggregate score line and giving them the advantage which meant they would qualify on the away goals rule if the game ended that way.
Half time score 1:2, United with the lead in the game but PSG with the advantage. Romelu Lukaku resumed scoring with his left boots.
PSG picked up from where they stopped in the first half, dominating and looking like they would get a goal each time they bombed forward. United kept their calm and relied on the scraps they got as time wore on. The clock was winding down and it looked like PSG had the game in the bag, then youngsters Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood were brought on in the 80th and 87th minute for Pereira and Young respectively for United, I thought OGS had resigned his faith to losing out on a quarter final berth at this point. I thought wrong, the Red Devils were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute. It appeared Presnel Kimpembe obstructed a goal bound shot with his elbow. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was called into action and the penalty stood.
In all honesty I thought it was a tough call but first I am a Manchester United fan and this was a call that gave me joy. Marcus Rashford stepped up to take the spot kick and he buried it well giving United a 3:1 lead.
The Red Devils surmounted a huge task by scoring 3 away goals and qualifying for the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League via the away goals rule. Great game, not a fantastic performance from Manchester United but remember a large number of their first team players were out injured. I will like to say Chris Smalling played a big part in this win not to take anything away from Romelu Lukaku who weighed in with 2 goals and Marcus Rashford who was able to keep his composure before scoring that late penalty.
In case you missed it, Manchester United under OGS have not drawn let alone lost an away game (9 games and counting).
And like my one time favourite TV show host Funmi Iyanda said sometime ago, supporting Man U is like falling for the tall, fit, hot, rich, cultured guy, where’s the challenge?
Glory Glory Man United, Glory Glory Man United, Glory Glory Man United as the REDS go marching on, on, on!!!
Thanks for your time guys. BLESS!!!
Retelling sports with a goal in mind !!!