7th March, 2019
The faces of victory, joy and ecstacy – truly united at Manchester.
Manchester United did the unthinkable last night in Paris as they trounced the almighty Paris St. Germain by three solid goals to one in their own backyard in a Champions League second leg match.
What a very sweet, sweet revenge for Ole Gunnar Solskjær whose perfect record since assumption of office as the ManU manager was dented by this same PSG at Old Trafford when his team lost 0-2 in the first leg.
This victory is even more remarkable when one takes into account the fact that Manchester United’s midfield general in the person of Paul Pogba and utility players such as Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and others could not play in this game due to reasons ranging from suspension to injuries.
Jesse Lingard could not play the match but that did not stop him from celebrating the victory at home.
Another key factor in this victory is a lesson in life for all and sundry – when you are down and people laugh at you, never stay down. Get up, dust yourself and get going again until you succeed and shame your enemies. Romelu Lukaku did just that last night when it mattered most. He scored two beautiful and inspiring goals that raised the confidence level of his team mates at the right point in the game.
As for the game itself, Manchester United made Champions League history as Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp penalty secured a 3-1 win away to Paris Saint-Germain, sending the English side through on away goals after a 2-0 loss in the first leg.
This has never happened before now as no side had ever progressed in a knockout match in Europe’s elite competition after losing a home first leg by two or more goals, but United did the unthinkable, Rashford adding to Romelu Lukaku’s brace after VAR drama.
Remember him? Yes, Patrice Evra is forever ManU. He celebrates the win at the stadium with Paul Pogba who was suspended for this game.
Towards the end of the game with scores standing at 1-2, PSG looked as though they had done enough, but with the use of technology, Presnel Kimpembe was penalised for handball and Rashford emphatically dispatched the opportunity, seeing the Ligue 1 team eliminated at the last-16 stage for a third year in succession.
Manchester United had gone ahead early in the game as a poor Kehrer pass in behind Thiago Silva gifted United the early boost they needed, as it released Lukaku and he duly slotted home after skipping past Buffon in the second minute.
However, PSG quickly got back into the game as they began to dominate and drew level 10 minutes later – Bernat applying a straightforward finish after Kylian Mbappe’s pass across the face of goal.
As mother luck would have it for ManU, PSG fell behind again before half-time, as Buffon spilled Rashford’s long-range shot and Lukaku punished him, shortly before United – who are already dealing with a lengthy injury list – withdrew Eric Bailly following a mistimed Marco Verratti challenge.
The celebrations continue in a different pattern this time around.
The home team should have put the tie beyond United late on, but Mbappe slipped when trying to round David de Gea, while Bernat hit the post when the loose ball ran into his path.
Manchester United made them pay for all of that thereafter.
Diogo Dalot’s long-range strike hit the arm of Kimpembe in the box and, following a review, a contentious penalty was given, with Rashford confidently smashing his kick beyond Buffon to spark mayhem among the United fans and book a place in the last eight of the Champions League Competition.
If there were any doubts about Solskjaer getting the job on a permanent basis inside United, there surely cannot be any remaining now. While the Red Devils were certainly aided by two PSG gifts and VAR controversy, the fact remains they pulled off a truly remarkable turnaround, one only possible for a team all playing for each other.