PSG 1-2 Man Utd: 5 talking points as Marcus Rashford nets another winner in Paris

For Marcus Rashford and Manchester United, it was a case of deja vu in Paris.

The England striker’s fine late winner handed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side victory, to kick off their Champions League campaign in the best possible manner with a 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain.

United took the lead midway through the first half from the penalty spot, after Anthony Martial had been fouled by Abdou Diallo.

Bruno Fernandes’ first effort was saved by Keylor Navas, only for the Costa Rican to have strayed from his line; Fernandes, who missed at the weekend against Newcastle, made no mistake with his second attempt.

PSG weren’t at their best and Thomas Tuchel threw on Everton loanee Moise Kean at the break to offer more attacking threat, but it was Kylian Mbappe who almost levelled, denied by a fine diving save from David de Gea.

Rashford fluffed his pass when he and Martial went two-vs-one shortly after, before the Frenchman headed a Neymar corner into his own net after 55 minutes, gifting the sub-par hosts an equaliser.

Both teams had chances to win it late on, with United continually causing problems on the counter attack after Solskjaer’s decision to take off debutant Alex Telles and bring on Paul Pogba.

And just as they looked like having to settle for a point in Paris, Rashford clinically fired into the bottom corner to hand the Red Devils a victory which, ultimately they deserved.

Marcus Rashford celebrates his winner

1. Solskjaer switches his pack

Without Harry Maguire and with his defence under-fire, Solskjaer reverted to a back three in his quest to keep Neymar and Mbappe quiet.

That saw Alex Telles start at left wing-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right, with Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe either side of Victor Lindelof.

It’s a formation which Solskjaer utilised smartly during his initial period in charge – notably in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – but which he has only occasionally used since Maguire’s £80million arrival from Leicester.

But with United wanting to crowd out Neymar, Mbappe and Angel Di Maria, it made sense to go with a back five, with both Fred and Scott McTominay protecting.

PSG’s front trio couldn’t find space between the lines, and thus had to continually drop deep to receive possession; by the time they were then facing goal, they often had four or five players between themselves and David de Gea.

It was the kind of tactical savvy – especially from a defensive point of view we don’t all that readily associate with the Norwegian.

Unfortunately, United’s own No.9 broke what had been smart, effective resistance.

But then, he changed things. On came Pogba, a kind of 5-2-2-1 formation became more 4-2-2-2, and United created chance after chance.

And, thankfully, United’s No.10 fired home a brilliant winner.

Solskjaer arrives at the Parc des Princes

2. Captain Fernandes sets the tone

In Maguire’s absence, Solskjaer handed the armband to the Portuguese midfielder, leading Rio Ferdinand to remark pre-game: He’s not even been here a year but he’s walked in and been told he’s the captain for the night because Maguire isn’t here.

“That tells you one, about him and his personality and also about the squad. They haven’t got the players that are going to step in and play that role.”

Now ignore what Ferdinand said about the squad, and focus on the personality line.

Time and again it’s been clear how much Fernandes has demanded of both himself and teammates since arriving. And time and again, he has delivered.

At the Parc des Princes, he showed his character once more.

Having missed from the penalty spot against Newcastle – his first spot-kick failure since arriving at Old Trafford – he saw his first effort saved by Navas here.

However, when the retake was ordered, he had no intention of handing responsibility over; instead he grabbed the bull by the horns again, stepped up, coolly rolled home, and handed his side the lead.

It was another example of him leading by example and he did that throughout in the French capital, continually acting as a reference point for his side in possession, and working his socks off without the ball too.

Bruno Fernandes celebrates with Alex Telles

3. De Gea offers answers

If Dean Henderson still wasn’t fully aware of the level he needs to reach to be United No.1, then De Gea showed him here.

The Spaniard was on top of his game, back to something like his very best.

He made a number of impressive stops – one brilliant reactionary effort early on to deny a close range effort, another full-length stop to deny Mbappe early in the second period – commanded his area well and showed good handling amid a Paris downpour.

A very good night on an individual level.

A good showing from United’s No.1

4. PSG too smart for their own good

PSG are capable of matching Europe’s very best, as they showed with their run to last season’s final and their performance against Bayern Munich in Lisbon.

But when they – and by they, I mean their premier talents, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – elect to over-indulge themselves from the outset, slowing the game down and taking too many touches, they handicap themselves.

Les Parisiens are at their when they attack in waves, when the passing is short and sharp, when they play through opponents; when Mbappe spins in behind and Neymar tucks into the spaces.

They didn’t do that here. Not by a long shot.

Neymar wasn’t at his best

5. Tuanzebe’s return

It’s easy to see why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is so keen to offer Axel Tuanzebe a chance to make future for himself.

After an injury-hit 12 months, the 22-year-old was thrown into the heart of defence and tasked with going toe-to-toe with Mbappe throughout.

He brings extra speed to the United backline, and showcased his recovery pace in a couple of 30-40 yard sprints against the French phenom – winning out on both occasions.

If his injury issues are behind him, then if he puts in regular performances like this, there’s no reason he won’t soon be a first-team regular.

Who will win the Champions League? Have your say in the comments below

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