Manchester United Shock PSG 3-1, Advance to Champions League Quarter-Finals

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2019

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his sides third goal with teammates during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at Parc des Princes on March 06, 2019 in Paris, . (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

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 on to 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 Lukaku's path.

Angel Di Maria thought he had 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 after Presnel Kimpembe was controversially penalised for a handball in injury time following a video assistant referee review, and Rashford smashed home the resulting spot-kick.

                               

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PSG Deserved UCL Exit

The Parisians will feel hard 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 they 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 flak he has received is, at times, understandable—his first touch, in particular, can be frustrating.

However, he has firmly rediscovered his confidence under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and has now scored three consecutive braces.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United celebrates at the penalty award during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at Parc des Princes on March 06, 2019 in Paris, .
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

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 the striker's 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 only 21.

The pair are capable of dovetailing quite well up front, so there's room for both of them in the side, but despite his limitations, Lukaku should be United's main man in and around the penalty area.

                                                          

What's Next?

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.