Manchester United suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to Paris Saint-Germain in Wednesday’s Champions League group stage clash at Old Trafford. It was a close game, and the scoreline perhaps flatters the visitors, though they were clinical with their finishing and put a wasteful United to the sword. The result means United head into the final matchday needing to avoid defeat to RB Leipzig if they’re to qualify for the knockout stages.
PSG made an alarmingly strong start to the match, opening the scoring in just the sixth minute of play. A slick counter-attack culminated in a Kylian Mbappé effort that looped up off the foot of Victor Lindelöf and into the path of Neymar. With one touch, the Brazilian stroked the ball inside the far post from the right side of the six-yard box, and the visitors had an early advantage.
United looked set for a long night, and David de Gea was forced into a strong save to deny Alessandro Florenzi from the edge of the area a few minutes later. Things might easily have gone from bad to worse when Fred thrust his head in the direction of Leandro Paredes midway through the opening period, though he escaped with a booking after a VAR review.
Gradually, United started to grow into the game, and equalised thanks to a big stroke of luck just past the half-hour. Anthony Martial was denied from the edge of the area by a diving Keylor Navas, and the rebound found its way out to Marcus Rashford. His low drive took a huge deflection off Danilo’s outstretched leg, and the ball trickled inside a wrong-footed Navas’s near post.
By halftime, United seemed in control of the game. They continued in the ascendancy after the restart, and should’ve gone ahead within five minutes of kickoff. An ingenious one-two between Rashford and Edinson Cavani bought Rashford the space to square for an unmarked Martial, though the Frenchman arrived at the far post ahead of the ball, and scooped it straight over the crossbar.
Cavani turned in an impressive performance against his former club, and went within inches of giving United the lead just short of the hour. Bruno Fernandes triggered a quick counter-attack, sending Martial scampering into sparsely populated PSG territory. He picked out Cavani to his right, and the Uruguayan clipped a brilliant, audacious chip over Navas and against the top of the crossbar from outside the box. Martial charged to meet the rebound, but his close-range shot was well blocked.
At the other end, PSG remained a threat, and minutes later Marquinhos headed a Florenzi cross just over the bar. Substitute Mitchel Bakker soon went close to restoring the visitors’ advantage, though he was denied from close range by a smart De Gea save. Alas, the ensuing corner proved United’s undoing, with Ander Herrera drilling the ball back into the box and Marquinhos tapping home from point-blank range.
Within seconds of kickoff, United’s task got a whole lot more difficult. A clumsy tackle from Fred earned him a second yellow card, and the Brazilian was shown the red he was lucky to avoid in the first half.
United pushed valiantly for an equaliser, and went close courtesy of a spectacular long-range Paul Pogba effort. Committing players forward, however, left them vulnerable to the counter-attack, and they were soon punished by a ruthless PSG. Rafinha charged into the United box, and pulled the ball back across the face of goal for Neymar to tap into an empty net.
3-1 was how it ended, leaving United with work to do against RB Leipzig on the final group stage matchday.