Depleted United find character to oust PSG | The Daily Star
04:02 AM, March 07, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:23 AM, March 07, 2019

Depleted United find character to oust PSG

A heavily depleted Manchester United side defeated Paris Saint Germain 3-1 in the second leg of the round of 16 tie to complete a memorable comeback after a first leg 2-0 defeat to make their way through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League with a brace from Romelu Lukaku and a penalty right at the death from Marcus Rashford.

Video Assitant Referee (VAR) was called into action late in the game after a handball from Presnel Kimpembe following a shot from Dalot. Rashford converted the resulting penalty in injury time to send United through but not before some tense minutes at the end where they held on to reach the quarter-finals on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate score.

No side had ever comeback from a 2-0 home defeat in the history of the competition and the big referee call will no doubt raise question in the aftermath but there would be absolutely nothing one can take away from a resolute United side who overcame serious injury issues -- an entire first-choice lineup absent in Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba, along with the absences of Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial -- to advance in the most dramatic fashion.

Lukaku struggling to get game time was handed a start and he shot United into an early lead, springing onto a misplaced pass from Thilo Kehrer before racing past Gigi Buffon and slotting the ball in from a tight angle in just the second minute of the game. PSG kept their calm before Juan Bernat equalised for the home side in the 11th minute after some quick footsteps and a pass from Kylian Mbappe. PSG dominated in possession moving the ball around and United were willing to let them do it, waiting for their own opportunities. Lukaku did just that as he handed United the lead after Rashford’s shot from distance was thwarted by Buffon and the Belgian reached to the rebound before everyone and slotted it into the net.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had said before the game that it was possible to go through given they scored an early goal and were still in the game with 30 minutes to go. Both of those requirements came into fruition and United, pushed to the limit held on for a memorable win as their young lineup prevailed even after a first half with less than 20 percent posession. PSG for their part, were brutally exposed and will be left ruing another Champions League knockout round elimination which mimicked the one Barcelona inflicted on them in 2016 with a 6-1 turnaround after a 4-0 win in Paris.

The Champions League meanwhile continued its exciting round of results following Ajax’s 4-1 win over reigning champions Real Madrid elsewhere as well, with Porto knocking out Roma with a last-gasp VAR penalty. The next bout of round of 16 ties could throw out some more big names with Barcelona and Juventus’ European destinies hanging in the balance against Lyon and Atletico Madrid respectively while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool could add to the late-stage knockout round drama against Bayern Munich.


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