After an 18-month absence from the UEFA Champions League, the Red Devils returned to Europe’s flagship club competition with a convincing win against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
A first-half penalty from Bruno Fernandes and a last-minute strike from Marcus Rashford were enough to ensure Manchester United began Group H with three points. The result might indicate a close contest, but this was a vintage United performance.
From the onset, the Red Devils looked lively and motivated enough to contain the Ligue 1 giants, with David de Gea also proving why he’s still the club’s first-choice goalkeeper with some important saves.
Manchester United started the season in frustrating fashion, having lost 3-1 at home to Crystal Palace. This was compounded by their 6-1 humiliation at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month. However, the Red Devils have had decent results in between and shown signs of improvement since that defeat.
When Manchester United had eliminated PSG from the Champions League in 2018, many described the feat as a fluke.
However, when United returned to the same ground on Tuesday evening, there were clear signs of a side that has tremendously improved. Even with Paul Pogba on the bench and Harry Maguire missing due to injury, there was still enough quality on the pitch to take care of business for Ole’s side.
While De Gea deserves plaudits for his sharpness and quick-thinking, the midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred Rodrigues must also be praised. The duo matched Neymar and co. squarely and shielded the defence to perfection.
Manchester United’s defence also did not put a foot wrong in the 90 minutes. The Old Trafford outfit's backline is usually known to be lethargic and sloppy but were rock solid and intuitive in Paris.
Playing a traditional back three, Axel Tuanzembe, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof all put in assured performances, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka and debutant Alex Telles were also outstanding on the flanks.
Manchester United may have been away from Europe for a while, but the performance against PSG was a huge statement. Ole’s team is not in the competition just to participate and Europe’s elite must take notice.Published 21 Oct 2020, 17:17 IST