Marcus Rashford scored a contentious stoppage-time penalty to complete a stunning comeback as Manchester United overcame a two-goal deficit to reach the Champions League quarter-finals
So, where does this register in the list of spectacular European nights for Manchester United? Very high, presumably, judging by the scenes of euphoria after Marcus Rashfords decisive penalty, deep into stoppage time, and the victory run at the final whistle when every single player, pursued by a small army of backroom staff, was haring towards the away supporters to celebrate.
If Ole Gunnar Solskjr has not already secured himself the job on a full-time basis, surely the announcement must be soon. He had told us there was no such thing, in the world of this extraordinary football club, to believe a two-goal deficit could ever be a lost cause. He had spoken about the importance of scoring first and how, in happier times, United had a remarkable knack for encountering glory with moments of late, nerve-shredding drama. And more fool anyone who did not believe him.
As it turned out, Solskjrs confidence was not misplaced judging by the story of how his team made it through to the quarter-finals, featuring an almost improbable comeback and a clear statement of intent from this once-mighty club, after everything they have endured since Sir Alex Fergusons retirement, that they still want and deserve to be taken seriously at elite level.
Ultimately, it is only a small detail that, over the two legs, PSG had looked the more competent side for long spells. No team in the history of the European Cup has gone through after losing 2-0 at home in the first leg and United, lest it be forgotten, managed it after arriving in the French capital without 10 players. Mason Greenwood, making his debut, and Tahith Chong, another academy product, were both on the pitch when Rashford struck the decisive penalty. It was an extraordinary finale and, amid all the jubilation and chaotic celebrations, there was one cry from the away end that rang out loud and clear. United are back, it went, over and again.
In that sense, it was an old-fashioned, almost nostalgic, kind of victory, going back to the times when Ferguson liked to boast no other football team on the planet scored so many late winners. In another sense, it was a very modern occasion, culminating in the Slovenian referee, Damir Skomina, being alerted to a possible handball from Presnel Kimpembe inside the penalty area. The video replays went in Uniteds favour and Rashford held his nerve brilliantly when faced with the challenge of trying to get the ball past Gianluigi Buffon from 12 yards.
For PSG, there was desolation. The champions of Ligue 1 will be accused of cowardice, of bottling it, and all the usual insults. That would not be quite fair, however, on a night when they had 87% of possession at one point. PSG easily had enough chances to spare themselves what happened in the 94th minute. They hit the post, they pinged shots at David de Gea and they had a goal disallowed, as well as a penalty appeal of their own.
It made for incredible drama amid the kind of din that made it easy to understand why Parc des Princes is described locally as the caisse de rsonance. United never succeeded in silencing the box of sound. They did, however, produce an unprecedented European Cup story with a cobbled-together midfield of Fred, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira and Ashley Young. Eric Bailly was injured in the first half and, as well as Chong and Greenwood, the away side had Angel Gomes and James Garner on bench. When was the last time, if ever, United went into such a key night with the shirt numbers of their substitutes totalling 240?
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