Manchester United faltered in their home fixture against Paris Saint Germain on Wednesday evening. A point against the French side would have guaranteed Ole’s men a spot in the next round. However, goals from Neymar and Marquinhos dispatched the Reds to a 3-1 defeat.
Ole’s starting lineup had the makings of a confident, but wary side. David de Gea recovered from his knock to return to the goalkeeper’s spot. Maguire and Lindelof were at the heart of the defense with Alex Telles and Wan Bissaka on the wings. Fred and McTominay were the holding midfielders with Bruno, Martial, and Rashford in the attack alongside Cavani. Paul Pogba and van de Beek were on the bench along with Mason Greenwood.
As expected, Paris started the game very strongly- keeping possession and pressuring the United defense. Rashford had a great early chance but his diagonal run away from goal left United scratching their heads in disbelief. Paris punished United’s lack of finishing by drawing first blood on the other end. Mbappe’s deflected shot found Neymar at a tight angle who calmly slotted in the far corner. After taking the early lead, PSG piled on the pressure and had a flurry of chances only to be denied by de Gea.
The highlight of the first half, however, was a scuffle that broke out in the 21st minute. Fred seemed to headbutt Paredes and a red card seemed inevitable. In a shocking move, the referee only produced a yellow card for Fred, who was certainly on thin ice now. Shortly after, United began to string together some very good passes and threatened PSG a lot. Fortune swung United’s way as Marcus Rashford’s shot took a huge deflection and rustled in the back of the net. With the game level, both sides frantically defended to keep the game level but when the halftime whistle blew, United had the upper hand and also fortune on their side.
Surprisingly, Fred jogged out of the tunnel onto the field for the second half. Fans expected Ole to bench Fred and keep him out of the referee’s book. However, Ole’s decision left many fans confused. United directed the second half with a lot more dominance and came close to taking the lead. In the 49th minute, former Parisian, Cavani found Martial with a brilliant cross. In an absolutely bizarre moment, Martial’s shot at an empty net blazed over the crossbar. This gut-wrenching miss underlined the poor season that Martial has had so far and it costed United greatly.
United came close again when Cavani’s shot hit the bar and yet again, Martial could not put away the rebound. Although Marquinhos blocked his shot, any attacker worth his salt would be able to finish that chance. PSG made United regret their missed chances. In the 69th minute, United failed to clear their lines after a corner. The ball fell to Marquinhos who stabbed it past De Gea giving PSG the lead again. Things went from bad to worse as seconds later, Fred was shown a second yellow card. United now had a mountain to climb, with a man less. Ole pulled the trigger on subs bringing on Pogba for Rashford, and then Mason and van de Beek for Martial and Cavani. It was yet another strange decision as Cavani seemed to be United’s best hope to get the equalizer. However, the substitutions did not help much as PSG capped off a win with Neymar’s late strike to end the game with a scoreline of 3-1.
In a game where United created several chances and came close to finding the winner, their old problem of being unable to find the back of the net cost them. With a nervy trip to Leipzig next, United cannot afford to lose if they are to qualify for the next round of the CL. Despite starting their campaign in style, Ole’s men faltered in Istanbul and then paid the price in Manchester. Hopefully, there is more fight in this team, and that Martial can seriously step up his game. While fingers can be pointed at many people, the manager made some blunders that cost the team. Nevertheless, if we aren’t converting the chances that we get, we are failing as a team.