March 21, 2019

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A Late Call, a Late Goal, and United Eliminates P.S.G. From the Champions League

A Late Call, a Late Goal, and United Eliminates P.S.G. From the Champions League
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Marcus Rashford’s injury-time penalty sent Manchester United through to the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, securing a 3-1 victory at Paris St.-Germain that overturned a two-goal deficit from the first leg.

The referee Damir Skomina awarded the penalty after a lengthy video review that showed defender Presnel Kimpembe jumping up to block Diogo Dalot’s shot with his elbow.

Rashford kept his nerve, blasting the ball past Gianluigi Buffon to send United through and crush P.S.G.’s hopes for a Champions League crown for yet another season.

“The kid is fearless. He’s got no doubt. Slotted it in. Brilliant,” United Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “I hope,” he added of the penalty, “it was the right decision.”

As the United players sprinted to celebrate with their fans at the final whistle, Kimpembe lay flat on the ground for several moments as a stunned Parc des Princes crowd looked on in disbelief.

The video-assistant referee system being added to the competition for the knockout rounds played a key part in the night’s other match, too. Alex Telles scored a penalty in extra time to send Porto into the quarterfinals with a 3-1 victory over Roma, overturning a one-goal deficit from the first leg. Telles converted the spot kick after Alessandro Florenzi had been penalized following a review.

United had only a slim chance to advance after losing by 2-0 at home in the first leg, and Solskjaer’s task was made even harder by the fact that 10 of his players were either injured or suspended. That included midfielder Paul Pogba, who was sent off in the first leg at Old Trafford.

“Everything seemed to be against us, but we’re used to that,” Rashford said. “We showed what we’re about today and got the result we needed.”

It was the first time in Champions League history that a team lost the first leg of a knockout tie at home by a two-goal margin and still went through.

“We always believed; that’s the thing. We had a plan,” Solskjaer said. “It wasn’t about having the ball and outplaying them. The plan was to be in the game with 10 minutes to go and we were.”

United had been handed an immediate lifeline when P.S.G. gifted United striker Romelu Lukaku a second-minute opening goal, before equalizing through left back Juan Bernat in the 12th. Bernat turned in a cross at the back post after Kylian Mbappé got behind United’s static defense.

United scored from its first attack when Lukaku intercepted a back pass from Thilo Kehrer, rounded Buffon and slid the ball in from a tight angle. Then the experienced Buffon spilled a low shot from Rashford and Lukaku turned in the rebound.

“We agreed that when Marcus steps out on the press that I would follow,” Lukaku said. “I told him every time he shoots I’ll follow the ball, and that’s what happened.”

P.S.G.’s defense had another bad night, a recurring theme during the knockout stages of a competition it has never won. Three years ago, P.S.G. was eliminated by Barcelona after winning by 4-0 at home and then losing the return leg, 6-1.

“If it were a league game you would wipe your mouth and go on, but today it’s horrible and cruel,” P.S.G. Manager Thomas Tuchel said.



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