They got it.
Romelu Lukaku scored twice in the first half, either side of a Juan Bernat goal, and Marcus Rashford stepped up to slot home an ice-cool penalty in injury time to send the United fans in Paris into raptures.
Lukaku was at the heart of this brilliant comeback, and we put his performance under the scanner here.
Goals – 2
Shots – 2
Dribbles – 3
Aerials won – 5
Aerials won % – 56
Passing accuracy – 65%
Coming into this game on the back of two successive braces, Lukaku’s confidence was at a high, and it showed. He was sharpest to react in the second minute when Thilo Kehrer’s pass back to Gianluigi Buffon was under-hit, then again when the veteran Italian goalkeeper fumbled a skidding Rashford shot.
And though he tired in the second half, he kept at his task diligently, occupying PSG’s defence, cleverly finding his team-mates, and at the end, joining his own back-line to close out a famous win.
Both of Lukaku’s strikes were classic poachers’ goals. Yes, they relied on mistakes – one poor back pass, one error from Buffon, but it takes a good striker’s instincts to pounce on those moments. Lukaku, with his confidence at a high, was on hand to deliver.
As United sat deep facing wave after wave of PSG pressure, Lukaku was everywhere. Jose Mourinho often praised him for being a good right-back when the situation required, and the Belgian’s tracking back was superb. He ended the game as a third centre-back, which says it all.
Romelu Lukaku’s game by numbers vs. PSG:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 6, 2019
5 defensive aerial duels won
3 successful take-ons
2 shots on target
“Only scores against small teams” 😂 pic.twitter.com/2ZCfW8c3zs
Nothing. Even Lukaku’s much-maligned first touch was superb today, as the striker unveiled an array of flicks and tricks. He ran with purpose, linked up well, and led the line in his best display in a United shirt.
Lukaku has come under criticism this season and there was talk of a summer exit and being replaced by a superior striker. It’s taken the Belgian one week to win everyone over again.
Three straight braces, and the last one will be the most famous. They weren’t particularly great goals, but they helped United pull off one of the most significant wins in the recent history of the club.
At the moment, everything is going his way, and he can do no wrong.
RATING – 9/10
Manchester United somehow progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals with Marcus Rashford’s controversial late penalty seeing them overcome Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.
The visitors got off to the perfect start – as did the tie from a neutral perspective – when Romelu Lukaku pounced on a poor Thilo Kehrer back pass to sweep United ahead.
That sparked the hosts into life and Kylian Mbappe dragged them back into it when he set up Juan Bernat to tap in. However, United retook the lead before the break when Lukaku scored his second – profiting from another mistake when he gleefully tapped in after Gianluigi Buffon spilled Rashford’s speculative effort.
Both teams had chances in the second period but lacked the necessary quality, with the French side looking like they would hang on until late VAR drama with United awarded a stoppage time penalty for a Presnel Kimpembe handball. Rashford rifled it in and United went through on away goals.
Here’s how the United players rated:
MANCHESTER UNITED (5-3-2)
David De Gea – 6: Little to do in truth. Beat away Bernat’s bullet. Nervy punch put side under pressure late on.
Ashley Young – 6: Looked leggy in the last week and was all at sea in a puzzling right-sided role. Much-improved after break, several key interceptions.
Eric Bailly – 4: Endured a nightmare for PSG’s equaliser, initially playing Mbappe onside before failing to track Bernat. Hauled off before the interval.
Victor Lindelof – 6: Focus was key alongside central partner Smalling. Calmness personified. Needs a long-term quality partner.
Chris Smalling – 7: Grew into the game and was kept similarly busy, seven clearances led side. Another solid showing.
Luke Shaw – 7: A nice turn to fool Mbappe and linked well with Rashford. Defended stoutly but passing was a little wayward.
Fred – 7: A quietly effective performance. Ruffled Marco Verratti’s feathers and ran himself into the ground.
Andreas Pereira – 5: Few misplaced passes. Otherwise didn’t do much wrong, but had little impact either.
Scott McTominay – 8: A busy, bustling performance from the athletic Scot. Never overawed. Led team in tackles (five).
Romelu Lukaku – 8: Alert to Kehrer’s early error, pouncing to round Buffon and finish assuredly. Gobbled up second chance. Six goals in three games.
Since joining Man Utd, Romelu Lukaku has scored 7 Champions League goals, 3 more than any other Man Utd player.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 6, 2019
Relishing the big occasion. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/TdTmxUbKsP
Marcus Rashford – 5: Wasteful and kept in check, but hopeful shot led to second goal for Lukaku. Not his best night but ended up being the matchwinner.
Diogo Dalot – 6: An instant upgrade on Bailly. Neat skill set up an attacking chance. Growing with every outing.
Tahith Chong N/A: Exciting Dutchman thrown on as United pressed. Fine tackle on Verratti.
Mason Greenwood N/A: Teenager replaced Young in a bold move from Solskjaer.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United can spark another memorable Paris St Germain collapse, despite 10 absentees compounding their difficult Champions League challenge.
United have to make history at the Parc des Princes if they are to progress from Wednesday’s last-16 clash, given all 106 teams that have previously secured a 2-0 first leg away win in the European Cup have made it through.
Solskjaer freely admits that they have a mountain to climb, but the caretaker manager was quick to point to their European history and PSG’s soft underbelly on the eve of the second leg.
It is just two years since the perennial Ligue 1 champions were on the wrong end of Champions League history when Barcelona recovered from a 4-0 loss in Paris to win the second leg of their round of 16 tie 6-1.
“Of course, everyone knows that we can do it, we have done it – and the results in Champions League in the last few years,” Solskjaer said at the Parc des Princes.
“I don’t want to call it strange, but last year Juventus lost 3-0 at home against Real Madrid and suddenly they were 3-0 up after 90 minutes against Madrid away.
“The year before that, PSG against Barcelona. We all remember those results. So, there are so many examples of teams who can change results like this.
“Also, as a club, we’ve done it so many times. The players have been fantastic away from home, beaten Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, which has given us the belief we can do this as well.”
That belief, and United’s current club-record run of eight successive away wins, is why Solskjaer says this second leg was “never mission impossible”.
If the players need further inspiration, they only need to look to the 1999 treble hero or former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who travelled with the squad but will not be making a speech in Paris.
“It’s a difficult task but we can do it,” Solskjaer said on the eve of his first away game managing in the Champions League knockout phase.
“Obviously we need the first goal and we need to stay in the game. If there’s half an hour left and there’s one goal in it, anything can happen. But we need a good plan, it needs to be put in place and we need to perform on the night because they are a team full of quality.”
United undoubtedly have the players to hurt PSG, it is just that Solskjaer will be without 10 of them.
Paul Pogba travelled to Paris but his red card at the end of the first leg means he is suspended at the Parc des Princes, where Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic are unavailable.
Anthony Martial, Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian are other absentees, while Alexis Sanchez became the latest to miss out after sustaining a knee injury in Saturday’s thrilling 3-2 comeback win against Southampton.
“It was a bad knee injury so if it’s four weeks or six, hopefully, he’ll recover quickly,” Solskjaer said of Sanchez.
“It’s just one of those situations that we come into, that we’ve lost a few players.
“We’ll cope with that, we’ll have a good team out there. We didn’t lose any in the last game – Alexis was the one that we struggled to get fit for now.”
That clutch of absentees has seen United turn to the academy. Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes and James Garner have travelled with the squad again, with 18-year-old Brandon Williams joining up with the senior team for the first time.
“Brandon is a full-back who can play both sides, quick,” Solskjaer added.
“It’s the first time he travels with us – he didn’t expect to come, but that’s part of being here.
“Suddenly you’re called upon, that’s why you’re in the academy, that we believe in you and suddenly you have to step up.”