Manchester United once again left it late to get their Champions League campaign underway with a 2-1 win over last year’s finalists, Paris Saint Germain.
It was a decent start to the game for both sides, though Manchester United did have goalkeeper David de Gea to thank for a couple of impressive early saves.
However, United were an attacking threat in their own right, and in the 23rd minute they were afforded the chance to take the lead when Anthony Martial was felled in the box by young centre-back, Abdou Diallo. Having missed a spot-kick at the weekend, Bruno Fernandes stepped up and again saw his penalty saved, though he was handed a reprieve as PSG ‘keeper Keylor Navas was adjudged to have been off his line. The Portuguese – handed the captains armband for the evening – stepped up again and sent Navas the wrong way to give the visitors the lead.
Early in the second half, United had De Gea to thank once again following another superb save from a Kylian Mbappe effort, however, having defended so resolutely and relatively comfortably, the Red Devils would cheaply surrender the lead as Anthony Martial headed into his own goal unchallenged from a corner.
United had started with five at the back, but following a spell of PSG pressure, they changed to a back four and regained an element of control, while continuing to look dangerous on the break – although they were guilty of being wasteful in the final third on a number of occasions.
March 2019: Marcus Rashford scores against PSG in the 94th minute to go through to the quarter-finals of the #UCL
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) October 20, 2020
However, with three minutes to go, United did find the required quality to bag a late winner, and having been the hero in the Parc des Princes 19 months ago, Marcus Rashford picked up the ball on the edge of the box and crushed PSG hearts once again, the England striker seeing his low drive crash in off the bottom of the post.
PSG enjoyed the lions share of posession in the game (61.1%), but United looked the most threatening, with young defender Axel Tuanzebe particularly impressive on his Champions League bow, and speaking afterwards, matchwinner Marcus Rashford hailed the side’s ‘concentration’ and ‘intensity’.
Axel Tuanzebe’s game by numbers vs. PSG:
100% aerial duels won
92% pass accuracy
Excellent performance. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/eDdlKgGS8h
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 20, 2020
“Of course it’s a nice feeling,” he told BT Sport. “More importantly, we won the game. We’re in a strong position now in the group but it’s the first game. The concentration levels we showed today we have to take forward into the next game.
“For me, they were both opportunities to win the game. As a striker, in the game late on, that’s the mentality. You might only get one chance. It gets us the three points.
“It’s a good performance but also one where we have a lot to build on. I always believe in the team. As players it’s important to believe in the system that the manager chooses to play. We did that fantastically. It was tough but we kept the intensity high. We had to defend very deep at times. They have some amazing players. In the low block it can be tough but the guys on the sides – the full-backs – they defended unbelievably. When we defend like that man-to-man, we can do really well.
“Every game requires different tactics and a different performance but what has to stay the same is the intensity. The intensity was key for us tonight. We kept going for 90 minutes. We are very happy today.”
Next up for Manchester United is a home game against Chelsea before they take on RB Leipzig at home in midweek, where a win would put them firmly in control of Group H.