Late VAR penalty secures famous United comeback in Paris


A brace from Romelu Lukaku and a late penalty from Marcus Rashford awarded by a controversial VAR decision secured a 3-1 victory and with it a sunning and unlikely comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Parc des Princes to go through to the quarter-finals on away goals.

The result must go down in United’s history as one of the very best as, despite injuries and a lack of possession and shots at goal on the night, the English side secured their place in the Champions League quarter-final and logged their first away Champions League knockout victory since 2011.

United’s comeback got off to the perfect start when after two minutes a sloppy back pass by Thilo Kehrer allowed Romelu Lukaku to latch onto the ball. The Belgian rounded Gianluigi Buffon and squeezed the ball in from a tight angle to half the deficit.

Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer couldn’t have dreamed of a better start.

Kylian Mbappe had two chances at David de Gea’s goal as the Ligue 1 side looked to respond from their early setback. Brilliant defending from Chris Smalling denied the Frenchman a chance at goal, but United’s early lead disappeared quickly.

Mbappe turned provider on 12 minutes as a low cross was tapped home by Juan Bernat at the far post. Bernat breezed past Eric Bailly who was caught daydreaming inside his own penalty area and gave de Gea no chance.

PSG began to dominate possession after restoring parity as the Parc des Princes breathed a sign of relief. Marco Verratti asserted himself in midfield both in possession and out of it as he battled with Fred and Scott McTominay.

Bernat could have two if not for a smart de Gea save. The Spaniard often found space down the left with Eric Bailly and Ashley Young often looking confused and unaware of their defensive responsibilities.

Despite heavy pressure, United regained the lead on the night and got back to within one on aggregate. Marcus Rashford hit a long-range strike which dipped on Buffon. The World Cup winner spilled the ball out for Lukaku to pounce on and tap past the great Italian for his second of the night and six goals in his last three games in all competitions.

United made the first change of the evening on 35 minutes as Diogo Dalot replaced the struggling Bailly. The Ivory Coast international appeared to be grimacing as he left the pitch, although his performance alone warranted the early withdrawal.

Rashford then wasted a huge chance to put United level on aggregate and ahead on away goals, although VAR would have ruled out his effort for offside had it found the net.

Dalot’s mazey run almost which could have ended in a PSG own-goal but the deflection was held well this time by Buffon.

Ten minutes into the second half PSG thought they were level through former United man Di Maria. Mbapped played a wonderful backheel pass, which nutmegged Chris Smalling, towards Di Maria who caught Young sleeping. The former Real Madrid man elegantly flicked past De Gea but the offside prevented Thomas Tuchel’s side from levelling the scores for the second time.

United settled into the game as the tie approached the last 20 minutes, but the Red Devils knew they would have to start to press for the goal to secure their place in the quarter-finals and Solskjaer signalled as much as he waved his players higher up the pitch in search of a winner.

Young redeemed his early effort by clearing a low cross destined for a tap-in at the back post before Mbappe wasted a counter-attacking opportunity for PSG.

Despite the need for a third away goal it was the French champions who looked more likely to score, substitute Thomas Meunier having a shot beaten out by de Gea as the game entered the final ten minutes.

Mbappe went clean through and looked to round de Gea before being stopped by the Spaniard. The ball fell to compatriot Bernat who then struck the outside of the post.

United’s Norweigan boss gave youngsters Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood the opportunity to write their name into United folklore but the away side struggled to retain possession in the final third.

With 90 minutes on the clock, VAR made it’s mark on the tie.

After Dalot’s shot deflected off Presnel Kimpembe’s arm, referee Damir Skomina consulted the reviewing screen and decided to award the spot kick.

Rashford, who hadn’t enjoyed his best game, stepped up with heaps of pressure on his young shoulders to smash past Buffon and almost certainly guarantee United’s quarter-final place.

The VAR decision eventually took time played to 98 minutes as waves of PSG attacks meant the game was far from over. A De Gea punch looked nervy but Manchester United stayed resilient to secure a glorious Champions League night in Paris.

PSG XI: Buffon, Kehrer (Meunier, 70), Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Verratti, Marquinhos, Dani Alves (Cavani, 94) Draxler (Paredes, 70) Di Maria, Mbappe

Subs: Areola, Choupo-Moting, Kurzawa, Dagba

Manchester United XI: De Gea, Young (Greenwood, 86), Bailly (Dalot, 35), Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Pereira (Chong, 80), Rashford, Lukaku

Subs: Romero, Rojo, Garner, Gomes,


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