Manchester United stunned Paris Saint Germain in the opener of their Champions League campaign. Goals from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford MBE gave United a sweet 2-1 victory on a rainy Paris evening.
After the win against Newcastle United, the Red Devils felt confident going into the game against the Parisians, but were wary of the opposition’s front 3: Mbappe, Neymar, and Di Maria. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection may have raised some eyebrows, but in the end Ole’s tactics outmatched those by Thomas Tuchel as United stuck to their game plan and came away with a stunning win.
Fun fact: This was PSG’s first Champions League group-stage defeat at home in 25 games. Their last home group stage loss was in 2004.
Bruno Fernandes was the stand-in captain in the absence of Harry Maguire. United also traveled without Eric Bailly, Mason Greenwood, and former Paris man Edinson Cavani. Ole gave a start to academy product Axel Tuanzebe in a 5-man defense partnering with Shaw and Lindelof. The defense also had Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles on the wings. McTominay and Fred were in the midfield with Fernandes, Martial, and Rashford in the attack.
From the kickoff, Manchester United stuck to their strategy of getting numbers behind the ball, negating PSG’s attacks, and hitting them on the break with Rashford and Martial’s pace. While Paris had the majority of possession, McTominay and Fred supported the defense in keeping most of their attacks at bay. David de Gea popped up with a couple of impressive saves to deny Di Maria and Kurzawa early goals. Manchester United countered with pace but lacked the finishing touch in the chances they created.
In the 21st minute, Diallo fouled Anthony Martial in the box. Captain Bruno Fernandes stepped up to put United ahead. Much to the dismay of United fans, Keylor Navas saved the penalty. However, the penalty was retaken, as Navas was completely off his line, and Fernandes scored on his second attempt! PSG tried to push for the equalizer but United’s disciplined defense held strong, and PSG looked vulnerable on the break. United had a couple of half-chances to double the lead but were unable to capitalize on the opportunities they had.
Ole’s halftime talk was perhaps his simplest- for United to continue what they were doing. Mbappe, Neymar, and Di Maria looked poor against United’s defense as Scott McTominay and Fred were making life miserable for the Parisians. Unfortunately, things took an ugly turn when Anthony Martial headed the ball into his own net under no pressure shortly into the 2nd half. Suddenly it looked like a Paris comeback was on the cards. Neymar and co. started a barrage of attacks on the United goal and came close to going ahead on multiple occasions. United’s defense put in an absolutely splendid performance and kept PSG out of their goal.
Paul Pogba’s introduction to replace Alex Telles changed the tide in Manchester United’s favor. The Frenchman began moving the ball around very well, giving Martial and Rashford some excellent chances. United lacked the finishing touch as some open chances went begging, and the game seemed to be heading towards a frustrating draw. However, the Red Devils had something special in store for Tuchel’s men. Marcus Rashford fired a fabulous shot from the edge of the box that went in off the post, sending the Manchester United dugout into a frenzy. Manchester United beat PSG to begin their CL campaign in style. They now face a tough week ahead with games against Chelsea, RB Leipzig, and Arsenal coming up.
- The defense, along with the defensive midfielders were solid today. Absolutely nothing to complain about there! Shoutout to Axel for putting up an exemplary performance, and also to AWB for putting in some world-class tackles!
- Bruno Fernandes led the team by example as captain and was exceptional in his passing and vision.
- Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial got into space and gave the PSG defense a headache- true attacking instinct.
- Alex Telles had a very solid showing against PSG today. He brings a lot to this team in terms of attacking options.
- David de Gea- Nothing more to say!
What to Improve
- Bruno, Martial, and Rashford need to be more clinical. It is good to be a team player and pass the ball around. However, there were times when they should’ve put the ball away, but chose to pass instead.
- Ole waited on the subs for a little too long. We had only made one sub till Rashford’s winner while PSG had made 5!