There won’t feel like a bright side to look on, given the magnitude of this competition, but at least Solskjaer didn’t lose to mugs. This wasn’t an upset, this wasn’t a travesty. What is inescapable after a performance of this magnitude is that PSG are one of the finest sides in Europe, even without Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
They were by far the better team on the night and, playing like this, could grow to be European champions. They were not flattered by the scoreline at all; if anything, it could have been more.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Bailly, Lindelöf, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Lingard (Sanchez), Pogba, Rashford (Lukaku), Martial (Mata)
Jones, Fred, Dalot, Romero
Bookings: Young, Pogba, Lindeof, Herrera
Buffon, Kehrer, Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Verratti (Paredes), Marquinhos, Draxler, Alves, Mbappé, Di María (Dagba)
Areola, Choupo-Moting, Kurzawa, Nkunku, Diaby,
Bookings: Kimpembe, Bernat, Draxler
Goals: Kimpembe (53), Mbappe (60)
Referee: Daniele Orsato
Manchester United were undone by an excellent team display, plus the individual excellence of two players in particular. Kylian Mbappe’s pace and goalscoring smarts make him the best young striker in the world right now, while Angel Di Maria was on a revenge mission, desperate to show Old Trafford what they had missed in his brief time here. He did, too, making both goals. His celebrations suggested he enjoyed proving the point, too.
Both goals came in the second-half, PSG having also had the best chance of the first. Injury left Solskjaer reshaping United’s forward line but it was at the back that they were undone: poor marking for the first, a mismatch of a foot race for the second. PSG dispatched them in a six-minute spell. The tie is not over, but United have a mountain to climb now.
The opening goal came from a right-sided corner, after De Gea had tipped round a Mbappe header from a Dani Alves cross. Di Maria curled it in and defender Presnel Kimpembe got in behind Nemanja Matic to volley the ball past De Gea from close range. Whether he should have been on the field having committed several fouls having been the game’s first booking is another matter.
Much like Manchester United, referee Daniele Orsato started off guns blazing and then lost his way in little; in as much as he booked five players in quick succession, and then lacked the gumption to upgrade to red when the situation demanded. Ashley Young, for one, can count himself very lucky indeed.
He was booked, rightly, for a foul on Kylian Mbappe after 29 minutes, when the young striker looked to have turned him inside out.
Then, 11 minutes later, he committed a second offence that while not regarded as serious, could have resulted in significant injury.
Pushing is one of football’s minor offences – but not when it is an overt shove in the back of a player already travelling at high speed, on a pitch with a notoriously steep run off perimeter and hoarding and metal fences in close proximity to the playing area.
The ball was as good as dead when Young too this liberty with Angel Di Maria, who was sent cascading into a barrier, unable to slow or properly protect himself.
He could have broken an arm, or several ribs; he could have smashed his face in, fractured his skull. Young had absolutely no control over the consequence of his action. He should have gone.