PSG surprised again by Manchester United

Finalist of the last edition, PSG fell from the start against Manchester United.

In Paris, the Lisbon summer hit is already just a distant memory. The “Final 8”, concluded with an unfortunate defeat on August 23 against Bayern Munich (1-0), left no mark in the quality of play and the commitment of the Parisians. On the contrary, Neymar’s teammates began their new European campaign on Tuesday 20 October in the worst possible way.

Beaten 2-1 – his first home defeat in the group stage in 16 years (3-1 against CSKA Moscow in 2004) – by Manchester United, on a late goal from Marcus Rashford (87e), PSG is already under pressure for this new Champions League.

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Interviewed before the match by RMC Sport, the German coach of PSG then showed a smiling face, but he must have quickly become disillusioned. Thomas Tuchel looked much more contrite when he returned to the locker room, as his players completely missed their subject in the first period. “We must be vigilant, attentive and play offensively” : Tuchel’s instructions have almost gone unheeded.

Crowned with their new summer status as finalist in the Champions League, the Parisians started the meeting at a slow pace. Without rhythm, apathetic and feverish, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé’s teammates were easily dominated by Manchester United, who did not even need to force, for forty-five minutes.

Organized in a tactical device in 4-3-3 and aligning a trio of flashy attack – Mbappé, Neymar and Di Maria -, the PSG cannot decently take refuge behind the absences of Marquinhos, Marco Verratti or Mauro Icardi. Opposite, the Norwegian coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, had chosen to do without Frenchman Paul Pogba and line up a five-element defense.

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The “Final 8” is already just a memory

In the middle of the field, the Portuguese Bruno Fernandes, the best player of the English club since his recruitment last season, shone. It was the former Sporting Lisbon player who opened the scoring in the 23e minute of play. The captain Mancunien took it twice to transform a penalty obtained by Blue Anthony Martial following a clumsy foul by Abdou Diallo, replacing the Brazilian Marquinhos in central defense.

Specialist in this phase of the game – he had scored all the penalties obtained since his arrival in the north of England before his failure in the Premier League against Newcastle last weekend – Fernandes first came up against Keylor Navas. But the Parisian goalkeeper had not kept – at least – one of his feet on the goal line when the shot was taken. At the second attempt, the Costa Rican was taken on the wrong foot (1-0). His opponent’s curious run-up – a kid’s jump just before the shot – may have unsettled him.

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Hardly agitated, the Parisians had nevertheless created the first two occasions. In the middle of a collective nothingness, Di Maria had rolled up a ball, released by the Spanish goalkeeper of MU, David de Gea (12e). On the next corner, played in two stages, Mbappé addressed a returning center which was taken with the tip of the foot by Layvin Kurzawa. De Gea pushed back again with the knee.

In an empty Parc des Princes, due to closed doors, the sound atmosphere was more like the district match than the Champions League poster: cries and protests from the players, instructions from the staff or the referee’s remonstrances. This first period to forget ended with a shot from Mbappé countered by the head of Neymar (45e +1).

Marcus Rashford gave the English victory at the end of the match.

Failing to find a soaring defensive solidity, the Parisians began the second period with a different state of mind, much more conquering. After easily eliminating two defenders, Mbappé saw his attempt diverted for a corner by De Gea (48e). It was ultimately a twist of fate that allowed PSG to return to the score. Striker Anthony Martial was on the wrong side and scored a surprising goal against his camp at the cost of a magnificent cross header (55e, 1-1). On the previous action, a failed cross from Kurzawa, failing on the crossbar, almost cheated the United goalkeeper.

Bis repetita for Rashford

Without control, the meeting adopted a wild rhythm. Actions multiplied on both sides. The entry into play of Paul Pogba brought an additional technical touch to Manchester’s game. Marcus Rashford worried Keylor Navas on a nice low strike, brilliantly countered by the Parisian (69e). A few minutes earlier, the new Italian striker of PSG, Moise Keane, was countered in extremis by Aaron Wan-Bissaka in full penalty area (64e).

Instead of continuing its efforts, the PSG finally fell back over the minutes in its through. And it was MU who got the best opportunities. Despite an excellent Navas and the clumsiness of some Mancuniens, the decision would logically tip in favor of the visitors. Rashford failed once again on Navas (80e) before taking advantage of the generosity of the Parisian defense to score the winning goal with a cross shot (87e, 2-1).

A year and a half after eliminating – in this same stadium – PSG in the round of 16 of the 2019 Champions League (2-0, 1-3), Manchester United did it again. Announced obvious in a group H also composed of RB Leipzig and Basaksehir [les Allemands ont battu les Turcs 2-0], qualifying for the round of 16 is already getting complicated. From next week, the Parisians will have to raise the bar during a complicated trip to Istanbul. False step prohibited in the face of the apparently weakest opponent in the pool.


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