Manchester United got their 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League campaign underway in emphatic style on Tuesday when Marcus Rashford’s late goal earned them a 2-1 victory at Paris St-Germain (PSG).
In another match in London, hosts Chelsea held reigning Europa champions Sevilla to a goalless draw.
The result in Paris handed the French champions their first group stage home defeat in 16 years.
Rashford netted three minutes from time.
His goal came 18 months after scoring the decisive goal in a 3-1 win at PSG which sent Manchester United into the quarter-finals after a 2-0 first leg home defeat.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side went ahead in the Group H encounter with a twice-taken Bruno Fernandes first half penalty kick.
Then, Anthony Martial’s own goal after the break gifted PSG the equaliser, before Rashford wrapped up the win with a precise low shot.
It was PSG’s first UEFA Champions League group stage defeat at the Parc des Princes in 25 games, having last lost 3-1 to CSKA Moscow in 2004.
Thomas Tuchel’s side looked nothing like the one which reached the final of last season’s competition as they lacked energy throughout in an empty Parc des Princes.
Paul Pogba surprisingly started on the Manchester United bench while Marquinhos was not included in PSG’s starting 11, having not recovered in time from a groin injury he sustained on Brazil duty.
He was replaced by Abdou Diallo, who fouled Anthony Martial in the box, handing the visitors a penalty which was converted by Fernandes on his second attempt.
Keylor Navas had saved the first kick, but it had to be retaken after the goalkeeper was judged to have moved off his goal line.
It was a poor start from PSG, who had two chances through Angel Di Maria and Layvin Kurzawa, but lacked aggression.
Fernandes went close to doubling Manchester United’s tally six minutes before the break with a thumping right-footed effort which Navas just tipped around the post.
Kylian Mbappe slalomed through the defence before curling a shot towards the top right corner.
But Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea stretched to tip the ball away three minutes into the second half.
Seven minutes later, Martial headed a Neymar corner-kick into his own net, handing PSG an unexpected equaliser.
The home side, who were also without the injured Mauro Icardi and Marco Verratti, started to find spaces in the defence of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side but they could not capitalise.
The visitors pressed harder in the closing stages and deservedly regained the advantage when Rashford beat Navas with a low diagonal shot into the bottom corner from just inside the box.
Manchester United next host RB Leipzig, who beat Basaksehir 2-0, while PSG will travel to Istanbul to face the Turkish side.(Reuters/NAN)
Chelsea hold Sevilla
Chelsea’s defence has come under intense scrutiny this season but manager Frank Lampard was smiling after a goalless stalemate against Sevilla in their UEFA Champions League opener on Tuesday.
It was the first 0-0 draw for Chelsea since Lampard took charge before last season.
And, while the game will not stay long in the memory, it was satisfying all the same for the club’s former midfielder and record goalscorer.
2019/2020 Europa League winners Sevilla are a canny team full of experienced performers in Europe but they were restricted to six shots on goal, the same amount Chelsea managed.
After the frenetic nature of the 3-3 draw with Southampton on Saturday in the English Premier League (EPL), vastly-experienced defender Thiago Silva and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy were calming influences.
“It’s a positive result. I understood the need to get a result in the first game of the group,” Lampard told reporters.
“They’re a really good team. It was an interesting game and I’m happy with the result. It was a big deal to get a clean sheet.”
Chelsea suffered a scare before kick-off, when Thiago Silva appeared to have injured himself in the warm-up, but the former Paris St-Germain (PSG) defender had a near-perfect game.
“He was very good today. He brought quality and experience and affected others around him and that was a big part of us getting a clean sheet,” Lampard said.
Before Tuesday’s game, Lampard had been in charge for 62 games and in that time Chelsea had kept only 15 clean sheets, conceding 99 goals.
“I spoke to the players about game management,” Lampard said.
“Sevilla are a top team and the concentration and focus you need to get a result was big. We made a lot of good decisions.”
His counterpart, Julen Lopetegui, also praised his side’s defending as they kept Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic quiet at Stamford Bridge.
“I’m happy with the job we did and the mentality and personality we showed at a difficult place to come,” he said.
“Against a team who spent 250 million euros this summer and with good players in every position, it required a big collective effort.
“I think we had chances to get the three points, but in the end we go on — it’s only the first match.”