PSG crash out to Man United after error-filled night
Paris Saint-Germain became the first team to be knocked out of the Champions League after winning an away first leg 2-0 as they paid for individual mistakes in a devastating 3-1 loss to Man United on Wednesday.
Wednesday, 6 March
UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd leg
Parc des Princes
Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Manchester United
(3-3 on aggregate, Man United win on away goals)
Thomas Tuchel had admitted he had prepared his side in case United should open the scoring to halve PSG's 2-0 first-leg advantage. The German coach got a very early chance to learn if his players had heeded his words when Romelu Lukaku seized onto Thilo Kehrer's miscued backpass, rounded Gianluigi Buffon and slid home the opener (2').
PSG could not have wished for a more disastrous start, but Tuchel soon saw his players had listened. Juan Bernat's low cross was within a whisker of being turned in by Kylian Mbappé (6'), who then had a shot blocked after he had cleverly worked space for himself inside the box to be in a position to meet Angel Di Maria's cutback (7').
With United on the ropes, PSG capitalised. Dani Alves' ball into the right-hand side of the penalty area sent Mbappé charging forward, and his cross found Bernat stealing in behind a dozing Eric Bailly — a makeshift right-back for the night — to steer home his third goal in the competition this season from close range (12').
The Spain international left-back has not scored a league goal in two years, but might have doubled his tally for the night inside 20 minutes when a slick move involving Mbappé and Di Maria freed him to shoot, but the ex-Bayern Munich man could only fire straight at David de Gea (19').
PSG were imperious and when Di Maria rifled just wide (21'), the scoreline appeared destined to change soon. It did, but it was United who did it, very much against the run of play.
In his 122nd UEFA Champions League game, Buffon made an error he had not produced in any of his previous 121, spilling Marcus Rashford's tame long-distance shot to allow Lukaku to gleefully gobble up his second gift of the evening (29') to register a brace for a third successive match.
A Diogo Dalot cross might have caused yet more damage, but when it ricocheted goalwards off a Parisian leg, Buffon fell quickly onto the ball and — this time — held on (42').
After taking a breather, the teams reemerged to heavy rain at the Parc des Princes, and though it did not dampen the enthusiasm in the stands, it did douse the passions on the pitch with both teams finding the creation of chances a more testing exercise.
PSG did break through the United rearguard thanks to an outrageous and perfectly executed flick from Mbappé for Di Maria, but after the ex-United man had chipped into the net, the offside flag abruptly cut short his joy (55').
Di Maria and Mbappé might have done better when they broke clear (75') and substitute Thomas Meunier stung the hands of De Gea from a tight angle (81') as the French champions — playing their 100th European game — sought to deliver a knockout blow to their English opponents.
Mbappé looked odds on to provide it when he was played in through the middle, but the FIFA World Cup winner slipped just as he looked to pass De Gea and — after Chris Smalling had touched the ball away from Mbappé — Bernat fired the loose ball off the outside of a post (83').
Instead, it was United who provided the coup de grâce. After VAR had been used to determine Presnel Kimpembe had handled the ball, Rashford nervelessly smashed home the spot-kick (90+4') as United followed in the footsteps of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF, the two teams who had knocked out PSG at the same stage in the last two campaigns.
THE PLAYER: Marco Verratti
The Italy midfielder knew he was just a yellow card away from a suspension, but not only did he play with the discipline required to avoid a booking, he also brought immense quality to the PSG midfield. He harried to win back possession as zealously as he distributed the ball, it was a five-star display in defeat.
THE STAT: 20 years 76 days
Mbappé became the fourth-youngest player to make 25 UEFA Champions League appearances behind Cesc Fabregas, Boja Krkic and Roque Santa Cruz, and provided his fifth assist of the competition, more than any other player this season.