Manchester United Perform A Miracle in Paris to Earn a Spot in the Quarter-Final

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 6: Coach of Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrate the victory following the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester United at Parc des Princes stadium on March 6, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Manchester United came to Parc de Princes with a severely weakened squad, being forced to make several unwanted changes ahead of the tie. Not only that, but they were also forced to score at least twice following the 0-2 defeat at Old Trafford to progress to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Paris Saint-Germain, however, came with a full strength squad and two away goals to their advantage. Simply put, Paris Saint-Germain were the absolute favourites to progress.

Paris Saint-Germain Dominate After Shock Start

But the game started off in the complete opposite. One sloppy pass by Thilo Kehrer ended up being the perfect pass to Romelu Lukaku, who took his chance, rounded Gianluigi Buffon and slotted it home to make it 0-1 to the visitors.

After the shock start, Paris Saint-Germain took more and more control of the game, creating chance after chance. With Manchester United being pushed back more and more in an attempt to protect their 0-1 lead the equaliser finally came for Paris Saint-Germain. With Manchester United´s centre-halves failing to push up enough, with Eric Bailly being the main culprit, Kylian Mbappé was lost and was subsequently played through by Dani Alves. Mbappé passed it across goal where Juan Bernat, who got away from a sleeping Eric Bailly, guided it into the open goal and made it 1-1.

Paris Saint-Germain, with Marco Veratti being the main motor in midfield, kept on pushing Manchester United back and controlled possession accordingly, causing major issues down the left-hand side. However, Manchester United managed to press higher up the pitch and started to gain more and more possession toward the last fifteen minutes of the first half.

Manchester United Gradually Improve

And in the twenty-ninth minute, Marcus Rashford found himself far, far out of the Paris Saint-Germain goal, but decided to let fly. Gianluigi Buffon spilled it, and Romelu Lukaku was once again the quickest to react as he swept in the rebound to make it 1-2 to Manchester United.

Manchester United managed to put more pressure on Paris Saint-Germain and caused unsettlement down the right-hand side through Diogo Dalot. But the 1-2 score would stand up until half time, and it was all to play for in the second half.

Second Half Tactics Pay Off

Manchester United’s plan for the second half was, however, easy to identify. They let Paris Saint-Germain control the ball as they sat back in the wait for the perfect opportunity to get the third goal which would send them through. As the clock ticked toward seventy-five minutes, Paris Saint-Germain had barely created anything against the low-standing Manchester United defence. Instead, Manchester United were forced to start lifting the backline in search of that third and ultimately crucial goal.

Marcus Rashford Sends Manchester United Through

In the eighty-ninth minute, Diogo Dalot found himself in a decent amount of space and sent a fairly non-dangerous shot toward the Paris Saint-Germain goal. Presnel Kimpembe lifted his arm, and the ball subsequently struck it and went out to what first was a corner. However, the referee decided to have a second look at VAR, and after careful deliberation, he awarded Manchester United a last-minute penalty.

Marcus Rashford stepped up and smashed it past Gianluigi Buffon to complete one of the greatest Champions League comebacks of all time. Manchester United were in heaven, but more importantly, they were in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Paris Saint-Germain Crumble Again

It was a match which made little to no sense. Manchester United were playing their “B” team and barely creating a single dangerous chance on their own, whilst Paris Saint-Germain dominated in every single aspect throughout the whole ninety minutes. And still Manchester United were, in the end, the ones standing as winners and quarter-finalists.

Paris Saint-Germain, who only two years ago were knocked out after an FC Barcelona comeback, were left wondering how it all had happened again.

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