Manchester United pulled off a Champions League miracle on Wednesday night when they overcame a two-goal first leg deficit against PSG to progress to the next round of Europe’s elite club competition.
The Paris club’s star-studded side very rarely lose at the Parc des Princes, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men produced a wonderfully disciplined and clinical performance to triumph against the odds.
The Norwegian coach’s impressive start to life at Old Trafford was given another layer of gloss with this remarkable success. Considering how many key players weren’t available to him too, including Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, he’ll certainly have learned a few things about his squad on Wednesday.
Towards the end of Jose Mourinho’s reign, and at the outset of Solskjaer’s tenure, Romelu Lukaku looked utterly bereft of confidence. The £75 million striker’s finishing touch had deserted him and the United faithful were beginning to turn on the 25-year-old.
Marcus Rashford established himself as the first choice striker under the new boss, and only a month or so ago it looked like it would take something very special from Lukaku to restore his reputation at Old Trafford. He has delivered something special since then though.
His recent form has been magnificent. He’s scored six goals in his last three games – two in each. His most recent brace was by far the most important, as his well-taken double gave United hope in Paris.
Ahead of the 2nd leg between Atletico Madrid and Juventus, 442oons reimagine the first leg in the video below in their own unique way…
United’s injury crisis was well documented heading into this game. On top of Pogba’s suspension, Martial, Lingard, Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and club captain Antonio Valencia were all ruled out.
The likes of Scott McTominay, Fred and Andreas Pereira started against the Ligue 1 giants, and all acquitted themselves well. On top of that, several academy starlets were named on the bench. 19-year-old Tahith Chong and 17-year-old Mason Greenwood actually both made it onto the pitch.
This proved that United have some serious squad depth and some exciting youth prospects who Solskjaer isn’t afraid to use on the biggest stage. That will be crucial to alleviating United’s injury woes during this difficult period.
The two-legged tie was decided by a last minute penalty. The VAR-assisted decision to award the spot kick was controversial to say the least, and the lengthy delay that the review process caused will only have served to set Rashford’s nerves jangling.
If he was nervous, the 21-year-old England man didn’t show it. The 31-cap international stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty beyond iconic veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Rashford is, of course, a huge talent with a great future ahead of him. When the time comes to reflect upon his career, that night in Paris, and that highly-pressurised penalty, could be considered to be one of the defining moments.