Manchester United beat Paris Saint-Germain 3 – 1 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday to sensationally overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit and secure a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring inside two minutes for United, who were missing 10 outfield players through injury and suspension, when he latched onto a careless pass across the back from Thilo Kehrer and rounded Gianluigi Buffon to score.
PSG quickly responded and restored their two-goal lead 10 minutes later when Kylian Mbappe picked out Juan Bernat to finish from close range.
Against the run of play, United hit back on the half-hour mark when Buffon spilled an awkward shot from Marcus Rashford straight into the path of Lukaku.
Angel Di Maria thought he’d equalised when he beat David De Gea with a deft chip early in the second half, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside, while Bernat hit the post late on.
PSG were made to rue their failure to grab a second goal when Presnel Kimpembe was controversially penalised for a handball in injury time following a VAR review, and Rashford smashed home the resulting spot-kick.
PSG Deserved UCL Exit
The Parisians will feel harshly done by after the controversial VAR decision went against them with just two minutes remaining, as Kimpembe was sanctioned despite facing away from the ball:
With many feeling the decision to award United a penalty was the wrong call, there was sympathy for PSG:
However, the hosts should have been well out of sight by then having dominated much of the contest, but once again nerves got to them on the biggest stage.
Both of United’s first-half goals came from glaring PSG errors:
The Parisians may have been missing Neymar and Edinson Cavani—who was brought on as a last-minute substitute—but they were against a Red Devils side missing many of their best players and had a 2-0 lead.
Their exit was the talk of Twitter, with many feeling their defeat was self-inflicted:
PSG’s history of Champions League failure continues to make for difficult reading from their perspective:
Although success in Ligue 1 is all but guaranteed, their campaign will yet again feel like a failure, and they have only themselves to blame.
Lukaku Should Be United’s Main Man
The Belgian has come in for plenty of criticism during his time at Old Trafford, this season especially after he endured a poor start to the campaign under Jose Mourinho.
The criticism he has received is, at times, understandable—his first touch, in particular, can be frustrating.
However, he has firmly rediscovered his confidence under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and has now scored three consecutive braces.
The 25-year-old pounced on the two opportunities that came his way, showing the predatory instincts that separate him from his team-mates.
Opta’s Duncan Alexander put his exploits in perspective, while fellow statistician Dave O’Brien demonstrated Lukaku’s impressive ability with both feet:
Alexis Sanchez is the only player in United’s squad who comes close to Lukaku’s career total of 232 goals for club and country, but he’s five years older and still falls short.
The Chilean netted 30 goals in his final full season at Arsenal, but he has been a shadow of that player at Old Trafford, so in terms of goalscoring, there’s no one as effective in front of goal as Lukaku.
Rashford could become as prolific in time, but he’s still only 21.
The pair are capable of dovetailing together quite well up front, so there’s room for both of them in the side, but despite his limitations, Lukaku should be their main man in and around the penalty area.
United have progressed to the quarter-finals, which will be played on April 9-10 and 16-17, following the draw on March 15. On the domestic front, United travel to Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday, while PSG take on Dijon in Ligue 1 on Tuesday.