PSG did everything they could to crash out of the UEFA Champions League. And as odd as it might sound, they clinched their objective. In an unforgettable match at Parc des Princes, Manchester United secured a 3-1 win over PSG, and The Red Devils found themselves in the quarterfinals. But it wasn’t something many expected to happen.
We only needed to take a quick at the team news to see how depleted Manchester United were going into this contest. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men didn’t feature several first-team players, and several regular starters: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard were out. Both Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata were absent, too. Talk about a depleted side, huh?
But let’s get back to PSG. They shot themselves in the foot in this tie. Even the biggest Manchester United fan could admit that. The reigning Ligue 1 champions had everything in their favour ahead of this game: a two-goal lead in the aggregate score, the home-field advantage, and an almost-fully strengthen side with the absence of Neymar. But life had other plans. And apparently, so did PSG. Let’s recap what happened, shall we?
It seemed everything was set for disaster just two minutes into the game. A huge mistake from Thiago Silva allowed Romelu Lukaku to score the opener, but PSG evened things up quickly thanks to Juan Bernat. Although the Belgian scored his third consecutive brace, and once again he had help from PSG – this time, it was Gianluigi Buffon’s fault. The experienced goalkeeper left a rebound, and Lukaku was there to pounce the ball home from close range.
PSG seemed to settle once the game was reaching its end, but they committed another huge mistake nearing stoppage time. This time, it was Pascal Kimpembe who – out of nowhere – decided to block a shot with a handball inside the box. The VAR decided it was a penalty, and Marcus Rashford slotted his shot past Buffon. Goal, match, and quarter-final berth for Manchester United.
It’s impossible to explain what happened with the French giants. Once again, PSG crumbled when it mattered the most. Two years ago, it happened in epic fashion against FC Barcelona. Last season, they couldn’t get past Real Madrid. And now it happened against Manchester United. The numbers don’t lie. Since 2012-13, PSG have reached four quarterfinals and three Round of 16 appearances in the Champions League.
Needless, those aren’t good enough numbers for a team such as PSG. One that features some of the best players in the world. We don’t know if the problem lies on the manager, the players, the fixtures, or if it’s a combination of all things. Maybe the universe just doesn’t want PSG to win Europe’s biggest title.
One thing is certain, though. Les Parisiens are quickly becoming Europe’s ultimate choke artists. And they gave us another example of that “talent” this Wednesday in front of their crowd.
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