Manchester United pulled off what had been dubbed “mission impossible” by some as they beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 in France to overturn a first-leg deficit and reach the Champions League quarterfinals.Trailing 2-0 from the first leg three weeks ago at Old Trafford, a United squad missing 10 senior players arrived in Paris with a mountain to climb.
But they scaled the peak in an incredible game, with Romelu Lukaku hitting a double either side of a PSG goal through Juan Bernat, before Marcus Rashford scored an injury time penalty that had been awarded for handball via VAR, sending United through on away goals.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his team would be in with a chance if they got the first goal, and sensationally that’s what they did in the first two minutes.
PSG defender Thilo Kehrer played the ball blind across the back, and Romelu Lukaku nipped in and rounded ‘keeper Gianluigi Buffon before slotting home from a tight angle for the Belgian’s fifth goal in three games.
It was a dream start for United, but PSG soon snapped them out of their early reverie.
Kylian Mbappe nearly squared things up but couldn’t get on the end of a ball flashed across the box as PSG began to press relentlessly.
That was a warning shot, and Mbappe was the danger man again when he beat the United backline to cut the ball back for Juan Bernat to tap home at the backpost to level the score with 12 minutes gone.
It was all square, but PSG enjoyed upwards of 85 percent possession in the opening 25 minutes, pushing forward in a waves.
Incredibly though, United turned the tide again with 30 minutes gone, this time through a mistake from the unlikeliest of PSG sources.
Marcus Rashford tried his luck from 30 yards out with a low drive, the pace and bounce deceiving Buffon in the PSG goal, and the Italian veteran spilled the ball on the greasy Parc des Princes turf into the path of Lukaku, who was there to gratefully turn home.
Some had dubbed their task “mission impossible” before the game, but United had chosen to take on the challenge with the doggedness that has characterized Solskjaer ’s tenure so far – and they needed to score just one more for a famous win in Paris.
United, with 10 senior players missing from the squad, suffered another injury blow when French defender Eric Bailly went off before half time, replaced by Diogo Dalot, although in reality Bailly had been enduring a night to forget.
The visitors went in ahead at half time, with a turn-up on the cards.
PSG slipped into their rhythm again after the break and thought that had equalized when Mbappe fed a delightful backheel through Chris Smalling’s legs and into the path of Angel Di Maria, who clipped the ball into the net.
But the Argentine winger, who had tormented his former side in the first leg, soon saw his celebration curtailed when the strike was rightly disallowed for offside.
PSG continued to probe, but United continued to have the outlet of Rashford and the predatory Lukaku, meaning the French side were caught between pressing to put the tie out of reach and ensuring they remained tight at the back.
David de Gea was called on to foil Mbappe inside the last 10 minutes, as PSG looked on course to scrap through.
But things took an incredible twist in injury time when the ball was adjudged to have struck the arm of Presnel Kimpembe.
After what seemed like an age as referee Damir Skomina checked the VAR, the spotkick was awarded and Rashford coolly slotted it past Buffon.