Manchester United suffered their first defeat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they were beaten 2-0 by PSG at Old Trafford in the Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday.
Manchester United started the game the stronger of the two sides, but failed to make the most of their momentum, especially when Paul Pogba dribbled into the box. But, the first half largely saw chances come few and far between, with PSG coming the closest to breaking the deadlock, through Angel Di Maria.
In fact, the first 45 minutes were characterized by the trigger happy referee, who dished out several yellow cards. Meanwhile, the hosts received a cruel blow to their hopes of beating PSG, as they lost Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial to injuries at half-time.
With their momentum completely sapped, Thomas Tuchel’s men pounced, breaking the deadlock just eight minutes post the break. Former Manchester United flop Di Maria’s corner was volleyed past David de Gea by Presnel Kimpembe, moments after the Spaniard had saved Kylian Mbappe’s header.
Mbappe though, finally found the back of the net at the hour mark, with Di Maria creating the chance yet again, this time producing a beautiful low cross from the left flank. Mbappe’s goal rounded off the win, but it could have been a whole lot worse for Manchester United, who had de Gea to thank for keeping the visitors’ lead down to two goals.
It did go from bad to worse for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, as Paul Pogba was sent off for a second bookable offence when he fouled Dani Alves late into the game. The Frenchman will now be unavailable for the return leg, which is a further setback for Manchester United.
The result meant United have now suffered their heaviest home defeat in the UEFA Champions League, and their first ever loss under Solskjaer. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over the Norwegian’s charges.
David de Gea: 8/10
De Gea did concede twice on the night, but if it wasn’t for him, the scoreline would have been far more embarrassing for Manchester United. While the Spaniard did not stand much of a chance to stop either goal from going in, two of them right from the top drawer to deny Kylian Mbappe, while also thwarting Juan Bernat.
Ashley Young: 5/10
Like many in the side, it was a tale of two halves for Ashley Young. But, unlike most games, the Manchester United skipper could not create much even after seeing a lot of action down the right flank in the first half. Post the break, the veteran Englishman was run ragged by former teammate Angel Di Maria, who was also given too much space to cross in for Mbappe to score the second PSG goal.
Eric Bailly: 5/10
Pretty much from the get-go, Bailly struggled to deal with the pace of Mbappe. The Frenchman was not involved much in the first half, which saw Bailly contain his threat well. But, the second half was one to forget for the Ivorian, who failed to mark the World Cup winner for the second goal. A decision gone wrong by Solskjaer.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
Lindelof was arguably the best defender on show from the Red Devils, but that does not say much. The Swede, like Bailly, struggled to cope with the pacy Mbappe at times, although he also had to make for where his partner was lacking as well. Will have a lot of work to do in the second half if United are to harbour hopes of a comeback.
Luke Shaw: 5.5/10
Another to give a decent account of himself defensively, with Dani Alves not threatening a lot on the night. Shaw did struggle when Mbappe drifted to the right flank, but was largely solid otherwise. On the other end, however, the full-back left much to be desired, linking up poorly while barely creating anything with his attempted crosses.
Ander Herrera: 6/10
Herrera was tasked with keeping a check on Marco Verratti’s output, and did so superbly, with the PSG midfielder unable to dominate the midfield battle apart from the odd occasion. That much of the visitors’ attack flowed through the flanks is testament to how well Herrera did in the middle.
Ander Herrera’s game by numbers vs. PSG:
94.5% pass accuracy
15 final third passes
7 ball recoveries
5 tackles won
1 chance created
Man Utd’s best player. ⚡️⚡️⚡️ pic.twitter.com/JEKZ9wF61I
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 12, 2019
But, he could not drive United forward, when on the ball, which was his major shortcoming on the night.
Nemanja Matic: 5.5/10
If there is one player who characterizes Manchester United’s night the best, it is Nemanja Matic. The Serb absolutely bossed the midfield in the first half, wherein the hosts were the better side. But, after failing to mark Kimpembe for PSG’s winner, the wind seemed to have been knocked out his sail.
Indeed, Matic got overrun quite a bit in the second half, while he could not move his side forward at pace. In need of a rest, which is unlikely to be afforded to him anytime soon, considering the high stakes games that United will be playing in the coming weeks.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
Pogba started the game well, producing the best moment for the hosts in the first half when he dribbled into the box, only to not create anything from his opportunity. Thereafter though, Marquinhos marked the Frenchman out of the game, with the Manchester United talisman unable to affect the proceedings much.
The match ended on a sour note for Pogba though, who was sent off for a poor challenge on Dani Alves, which earned him a second booking. While there is no denying that the foul on Alves deserved a yellow card, the first booking was rather harsh, and it can be argued that if the midfielder was sent off on the night, then Presnel Kimpembe should have been as well.
Jesse Lingard: 6/10
Lingard was the danger man for the hosts in the first half, linking up well with Marcus Rashford and Pogba, while also initiating a couple of counter-attacking moves with well timed passes. More crucially, the English international helped Young out well with his defensive work-rate.
But, a hamstring injury forced him off before half-time, which effectively scuppered Solskjaer’s plans. The interim manager and United fans will hope that he is not sidelined for long, especially with Alexis Sanchez failing to step up.
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
Well rested for Tuesday’s tie, Rashford was seen as the outlet that could have troubled Thiago Silva. But, apart from one fiercely driven effort, the star striker could not do much to sway the momentum in favour of Manchester United. An outing that showed that Rashford still has a long way to go.
Anthony Martial: 4/10
Martial was the man with all the momentum after a stunning performance against Fulham, but failed to pick up from where left off last weekend when PSG came visiting. First touch was abysmal on the night, and he also lost possession a few times. Another who was forced off with an injury, it remains to be seen if his substitution was merely a precaution, or if there’s a more serious issue.
Alexis Sanchez: 3/10
On for Lingard, this was just the game where Sanchez needed to prove his worth. But, he did the exact opposite, showing why he has only been a bit-part player under Solskjaer. Wasteful on the ball, the Chilean could not even create one chance in half-a-game. Things just are not improving for him.
Juan Mata: 6/10
Introduced in place of Martial, Mata was neat with his passing, linking up well with Rashford. But, while he did produce a number of positive moments, the incisiveness was missing from his passing. Will have a big role to play in the absence of Martial and Lingard.
Romelu Lukaku: N/A
Solskjaer left it too late to introduce Lukaku, who barely got a look-in after coming on in the 84th minute.