Create
Notifications
New User posted their first comment
Advertisement

Paris Saint-Germain 1-2 Manchester United: 5 talking points as Marcus Rashford turns hero again | UEFA Champions League 2020-21

Manchester United
Manchester United's Rashford wheels away to celebrate his perfectly-executed winner, beating PSG late on
ANALYST
Modified 21 Oct 2020, 16:04 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
Advertisement

Marcus Rashford was a matchwinner in Paris for the second successive year as Manchester United stunned Paris Saint-Germain on MD1 of the new Champions League campaign, inflicting the Parisiens' first UCL home defeat for 16 years with aplomb after 87 minutes. 

In a match where Manchester United started well and punished a sluggish PSG side, they earned a slender lead after Anthony Martial was fouled by Abdou Diallo inside the area. 

Keylor Navas' initial save to thwart Bruno Fernandes was waved off after VAR review showed the goalkeeper had encroached from his line before the spot-kick was taken. Up stepped Bruno again, and he made no mistake this time. 

David de Gea was busy in the Manchester United goal, making saves to deny former teammate Ángel di Maria from distance and Layvin Kurzawa's strike at point-blank range minutes later. 

Thomas Tuchel knew he needed to make alterations at half-time and opted for Everton loanee Moise Kean, replacing defensive-minded midfielder Idrissa Gueye.

PSG couldn't play much worse than they did in the opening 45 minutes and on cue, they soon found an equaliser. Kurzawa rattled the crossbar with a cross-cum-shot before Neymar's corner was inadvertently headed goalwards by Martial.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made tactical changes of his own, introducing Paul Pogba into the fray while changing the team's shape. The game became more open as time ticked by and despite both sides having opportunities, it was substitute Pogba who had a lasting impact. He showed good spatial awareness and composure to hold up possession with his back to goal before teeing up Rashford to his left.

The 22-year-old still had plenty to do, advancing beyond Danilo Pereira with one touch and striking goalwards with the next. Navas, who had twice denied him, could do nothing to stop this effort as it cannoned in off the far post to secure a hard-fought Manchester United victory.

Without further ado, here's a look at five talking points from another memorable Parisian night for Manchester United: 

Advertisement

#5 Sleepwalking PSG fail to control midfield battles

Pereira was the best of PSG
Pereira was the best of PSG's midfield but was unable to stifle Manchester United as he would have wanted

During the match commentary, Paris Saint-Germain's midfield trio were described as non-threatening. Although other adjectives used felt harsh, Manchester United players seemed visibly unfazed by their midfield counterparts. A trident of Ander Herrera, Pereira (on-loan from Porto) and Gueye were frustrated in various ways as they were not allowed to really impact the game until it was too late.

Herrera, who spent five years at Manchester United, was ball-watching on a few occasions as the visitors soaked up pressure and continued hitting them with counter-attacking moves. Danilo regularly dropped into central defence to receive possession and scanned for options with a progressive pass in mind - futile with limited movement.

Gueye has now only played two sides more often than Manchester United in his career (Lyon and PSG) but the former Everton man couldn't get into a defensive rhythm and was on the periphery before being sacrificed at half-time.

Fred was quietly busy (five tackles, three interceptions, one clearance), Scott McTominay forcefully made his presence felt (four clearances, three tackles, two key passes, one interception) and new captain Bruno? More on him later. 

Advertisement

Also check out: Complete Champions League Results and live Scores 2020/21

#4 A new-look Manchester United backline working well 

Manchester United
Manchester United's Tuanzebe excelled vs. Mbappe and co, with composure and maturity beyond his years

After being dismantled 6-1 at home by Tottenham Hotspur just 16 days ago, Manchester United have responded well with two morale-boosting late victories against Newcastle United and PSG. Sure, the situations are different but they could've easily lost both games - conceding freak own goals in successive matches (Luke Shaw, Martial) can deflate a team's confidence so easily.

Fernandes sparked their late flurry on Tyneside this past weekend but it was their defence which excelled against a far superior team than Steve Bruce's here. Shaw has been the ire of Manchester United fans for far too long and much of it is unwarranted, given what he provides across the pitch without making a real fuss.

On the left-hand side of a three-man central defence, he made a handful of important clearances and defensive interventions while his surge forward helped create their opener.

Alex Telles, a £13.5m signing from Porto on deadline day, seemed more focused on creating chances (three key passes) than defending them but did his reputation no harm against a PSG side not regularly attacking down his side. Victor Lindelof's inconsistency has often been a problem, though the Sweden international stood firm in central defence and his defensive positioning was key.

Advertisement

Axel Tuanzebe, unfortunate with untimely injuries and forced to wait patiently, has helped him in the long run. His blistering turn of pace, coupled with a level of assuredness many wouldn't have expected, saw him rightly lauded in duels against Kylian Mbappe and co. Aaron Wan-Bissaka? More on him later too.

Also check out: Complete Champions League Schedule 2020/21

#3 The tale of two heavily criticised, quality goalkeepers

David de Gea won the battle of the goalkeepers as Manchester United earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Paris
David de Gea won the battle of the goalkeepers as Manchester United earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Paris

In many ways, this game was symbolic for two goalkeepers who have been under-estimated and heavily criticised in recent seasons. David de Gea's downward trajectory at Manchester United has been well-documented, with a string of poor mistakes and questionable decision-making combining to make him seem like a ticking time bomb.

It got to a point where many critics questioned whether Dean Henderson - who spent two years on loan at Sheffield United - would return and overtake him as Solskjaer's first choice going forward. The 23-year-old, who has been there for nine years and counting, watched from the bench as his teammate flourished in-between the posts.

Paris Saint-Germain could've easily been 2-0 up without really trying, had he not denied Di Maria and Kurzawa early on. He made five saves for Manchester United as well as many important stops. The last time he reached that number was during their 3-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea in mid-July, where he made mistakes for two goals.

Advertisement

At the other end, Keylor Navas ended up on the losing side but acquitted himself well and was unfortunate. Having departed Real Madrid in a £13.5m move last September, many felt the Costa Rican had regressed to a point where he was expendable after five successful years in the Spanish capital.

It's why exceeding his former side's achievements last season would have meant a lot to him, and although he also has poor games from time to time, moments like his fingertip save show he's not declining as quickly as you may believe at 33.

He made an excellent diving stop to save Fernandes' initial penalty, only for it to be retaken after encroaching off his line during the Portuguese' run-up. Rashford's winner for Manchester United was drilled into the bottom corner, cannoned in off the far post, and he could only look helplessly at his defenders - who didn't protect him well enough.

1 / 2 NEXT
Published 21 Oct 2020, 07:23 IST
Advertisement
Fetching more content...
App download animated image Get the free App now
❤️ Favorites Edit