Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Man United clip PSG

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2020 | 12:17 AM
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford leaps over a challenge by PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe during the Champions League group H match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, yesterday. United won 2-1.
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford leaps over a challenge by PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe during the Champions League group H match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, yesterday. United won 2-1.

Marcus Rashford sprinted towards the corner flag inside an empty Parc des Princes and slid on his knees in celebration, just like two seasons ago.

Another trip to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the Champions League. Another late winner for the Manchester United striker.

In a heavyweight contest on the opening night of the group stage, United reproduced their stunning exploits from the 2018-19 competition by beating PSG away thanks to Rashford’s 87th-minute strike in a 2-1 win yesterday.

It was an eerily similar scenario to 18 months ago when United arrived in the French capital heavily depleted and 2-0 down from the first leg of the teams’ last-16 match. It was Rashford, who clinched an unlikely 3-1 win – and progress to the quarter-finals – with a stoppage-time penalty.

PSG, last season’s beaten finalist, already have work to do if the Qatar-owned team is to realise its long-held ambition of being European champion for the first time.

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus are up and running already, though.

Messi scored a penalty to set Barca on their way to a 5-1 win over Hungarian outsider Ferencváros as the Spanish team began the rebuild of its reputation in Europe’s elite competition, two months after an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals last season.

SHORTAGE OF FANS

Ronaldo was missing for Juventus after testing positive for the coronavirus last week, but the Italian champions had a worthy replacement in Alvaro Morata, as the striker scored twice in a 2-0 win at Dynamo Kyiv.

There were wins for Lazio, Leipzig and Club Brugge, while Chelsea and Sevilla drew 0-0 and two group-stage newcomers – Rennes and Krasnodar – drew 1-1.

There were no fans at the Parc des Princes, one of three stadiums – along with Barcelona’s Camp Nou and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge – to be without spectators for the return of the Champions League because of the coronavirus.

A sluggish PSG certainly could have done with some backing from their supporters, with United proving more than a match for the home team.

United went ahead through midfielder Bruno Fernandes’ twice-taken penalty midway through the first half but conceded when Anthony Martial rose to clear Neymar’s corner from the left, only to glance a header past his own goalkeeper, David de Gea, in the 55th.

Rashford had already been denied by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas when he collected a pass from Pogba and smashed a low, angled shot inside the far post from the edge of the penalty area.