Marcus Rashford, Manchester United Beat PSG 2-1 in 2020 UEFA Champions League

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2020

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford runs with the ball during the Champions League group H soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

Manchester United opened the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League with a 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday at Parc des Princes.

Marcus Rashford scored the winner in the 87th minute, slotting a low shot into the far post and past a diving Keylor Navas.

This was the first competitive encounter between the two sides since United knocked PSG out of the round of 16 in 2019. Rashford struck the decisive blow on that occasion as well.

Manchester United snapped the Parisians' five-match winning streak. The result is bound to ease some of the pressure that again began building on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the Red Devils' 6-1 hammering at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month.

Bruno Fernandes scored the opening goal from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute. Navas saved his initial effort but stepped off his line before the kick was made. Fernandes walked to the spot again and sent the PSG goalkeeper the wrong way.

Anthony Martial was the second United player to find the back of the net, only he scored for the wrong team. The French striker headed a Neymar corner past David de Gea to make it 1-1 in the 55th minute.

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Neymar was back in the Paris Saint-Germain lineup after missing their 4-0 victory over Nimes. However, the French champions were without Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes.

A front three of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria poses obvious danger, but they generally need consistent linkup play from midfield in order to be their most effective against tougher opposition. The absences of Verratti and Paredes made building that connection difficult.

Manager Thomas Tuchel also appeared to adopt a conservative strategy despite playing at home.

Tuchel opened the second half by bringing Moise Kean on for Idrissa Gueye. While the gambit removed a midfielder from the pitch, it signaled a more attacking approach from PSG.

The new formation had little to do with Martial's own goal, but it came as Paris Saint-Germain started to look more dangerous going forward.

United's back four, Aaron Wan-Bissaka in particular, were up to the task. Every time PSG got free on the counter, the Red Devils quickly got back into position to remove any threat. And Wan-Bissaka was pivotal in keeping Neymar and Mbappe in check as they ran down the left flank.

A draw would've been a solid result in the French capital, even if PSG's equalizer was a case of friendly fire. Walking away with three points is the best-case scenario, and United were deserving winners.

RB Leipzig were 2-0 victors over Istanbul Basaksehir, so they sit first in Group H on goal differential. Beating Paris Saint-Germain away firmly puts the Red Devils in the driver's seat, though.

            

What's Next?

United face Chelsea on Saturday and then have a Champions League date with RB Leipzig on Oct. 28. Paris Saint-Germain play Dijon on Saturday in Ligue 1 before resuming their European campaign against Istanbul Basaksehir.