PSG cut Manchester United to size with Neymar double and Fred’s red card | Champions League


It was a Champions League thriller that had it all. Drama, red card controversy, chances on both sides, staggering individual interventions. But when pulse rates stabilized, Manchester United had to contemplate a loss that would set up a decisive group final at RB Leipzig next Tuesday. Paris Saint-Germain, finalists beaten last season, remain alive and, even better for them, they are in control of their destiny.

It was a game the French champions should have won several times before them, when Marquinhos finished clear from close range for 2-1. Neymar, with his second goal of the draw, would gold the score at the very end.

Yet, in the same way, they could have faced a deficit that could have turned out to be too large for them. After Marcus Rashford canceled Neymar’s opening goal, United missed a glorious 2-1 chance early in the second half thanks to Anthony Martial and former PSG forward Edinson Cavani.

Fred was the dismissed player for two bookable fouls, although he should have seen red for the first and nothing for the second, and United now know they need a point in Leipzig to progress.

It was only at the end of August that PSG had played their first final of the competition, but they knew at the kick-off that their continued involvement was hanging by a thread. The jeopardy underscored the occasion, which was also fraught with glamor and recent history between the clubs. It felt like a classic match, with Old Trafford immaculate under the lights, although strangely still.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær went for the safety of Fred and Scott McTominay in the central midfielder, but the plan was undermined when PSG crossed their side to score the opening goal. Kylian Mbappé started from the right flank before exchanging passes with Neymar and showing quick feet to get around McTominay.

When Mbappé shot, the ball ricocheted on Victor Lindelof to break for Neymar to the right of the goal. The angle was tight but the Brazilian hit the ball in front of David de Gea.

PSG were motivated by revenge, not only for the October defeat, but also for the dramatic exit of away goals at United’s hands in the last 16 of the 2018-19 competition. They were in the mood to injure United and they might have scored again before the tie was aged 20 minutes.

Manchester United's Fred (center) reacts after being sent off in the second half.
Manchester United’s Fred (center) reacts after being sent off in the second half. Photograph: Phil Noble / Reuters

Alessandro Florenzi extended De Gea from a distance after a terrible clearance from Fred; Neymar stretched but couldn’t reach a cross from Florenzi and the Brazilian then worked De Gea with a hung volley. The big luck, however, came when Mbappé led a break and teamed up with Neymar not to play Moise Kean.

United lived on their nerves and Fred summed up their nervousness when he stupidly put himself in danger of a red card in the 21st minute. Passions erupted after Bruno Fernandes came downstairs after a shot from Danilo and Fred clashed at Leandro Paredes. They pressed their foreheads together before Fred pushed his forward. Paredes collapsed to the ground.

Cue referee Daniele Orsato was asked to review the incident on the field monitor and it started badly from PSG’s point of view when the Italian first ran to the wrong sideline.

In the end, he would be convinced that a yellow card was enough punishment. It just didn’t make sense. And neither was Fred’s decision to challenge Paredes in the 37th minute. Risky didn’t begin to describe it. Paredes didn’t hold back either, and he surprised Fred into making a reservation.

At that point United were at the same level, but that didn’t reflect the balance of the first half. Although Rashford looked menacing, his team lacked candor and poor final picks. It took a huge deflection to get his team back. After Fernandes won the ball, Martial took a weak save from Keylor Navas and when Aaron Wan-Bissaka recycled the ball Rashford shot low for the far corner. Danilo deflected the ball past Navas and inside the nearest post.

United recalibrated in the meantime and they should have taken the lead on one of two breaks early in the second period. Edinson Cavani, the former PSG striker, was at the heart of both. It was his glorious film that set Rashford free and, when he came through, Martial had to score. He stood up high. Then Martial took out Cavani, whose chip beat Navas to come back from the crossbar. From the rebound, Fernandes goes up Martial. His shot was shot down by Marquinhos.

It was great entertainment with a sharp edge. Neymar had complained about being trampled by McTominey at the end of the first half as Martial bloodied Marquinhos in an aerial challenge. PSG have questioned control of Orsato.

PSG have returned. Marquinhos took the lead from the top of the crossbar and De Gea brilliantly saved from substitute, Mitchel Bakker, before Abdou Diallo sent a savage low shot from another substitute, Ander Herrera, through the six-line. meters. Marquinhos took a throw-in and scored.

Solskjaer paid for his decision not to replace Fred when the midfielder launched into a challenge against Herrera. He got the ball first, but Orsato made another erratic decision when he got a second yellow card. Fred had been fortunate enough to last this long.

Did United have something left? Paul Pogba, as a substitute, hit a 20-meter high volley and Fernandes headed for Navas. Mbappé should have added the third at the break. Neymar would do the job.

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