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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019


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Evening all, welcome to The42‘s live coverage of the first leg of the last-16 Champions League tie between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. 

With United revitalised and PSG depleted by injury, it promises to be a big occasion at Old Trafford. 

Stick with us, and get in touch by emailing, tweeting @gcooney93 or leave a comment below the line of this blog. 

Kick-off is at 8pm, and team-news is coming up in a moment…

Team news

Manchester United have picked virtually the same team that beat Tottenham last month, with Eric Bailly replacing Phil Jones at centre-back. 

Although Uefa are predicting a 4-3-3 formation from United, we reckon it may be closer to the 4-4-2 diamond that was so successful against Spurs at Wembley.

Here’s the team in full. 

PSG, meanwhile, are without Neymar, Edison Cavani and their brilliant Belgian left-back Thomas Meunier. In better news, Marco Veratti is fit….and they also have Kylian Mbappé.

Dani Alves, it seems, is going to line up on the right of midfield, although he has been moonlighting as a central midfielder of late, so don’t be shocked to see him swapped with Julian Draxler. 

Aside from the fact this is Europe’s Premier Competition™, tonight’s game is significant as VAR will be used in the Champions League for the first time. 

It will be used to correct “clear and obvious errors” relating to goals, major incidents in the penalty areas, red cards and mistake identity – all pretty similar to the criteria you came to love/hate during the World Cup. 

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Old Trafford The VAR system rocks up to the Champions League for the first time. Source: Martin Rickett

Angel Di Maria returns to play his former side tonight.

Paris Saint Germain Training Session and Press Conference - Old Trafford Angel Di Maria. Source: Martin Rickett

Name four other players to play for both clubs? Leave your answers in the comments – we’ll be back in ten minutes with the answer. You’ll win….our respect. 

Gigi Buffon starts tonight – less than a year after his meltdown at Michael Oliver over Juve’s Champions League exit to Real Madrid last year. “He’s got a garbage bin instead of a heart” blathered Buffon in a very un-Buffon way. 

Paris Saint Germain Training Session and Press Conference - Old Trafford Gigi Buffon. Source: Martin Rickett

Some of today’s football news for you as you wait for the 8pm kick-off: 

The FAI have got themselves in a muddle over a competition they announced before lunchtime today. 

Pele has paid tribute to the late Gordon Banks, who passed away last night. 

Paul Scholes, meanwhile, admits that he has left himself open to a bit withering Mourinho schadenfreude. 

And finally, Spurs get a bit of luck on the injury front for once – Dortmund are decidedly depleted for tomorrow’s Champions League tie at White Har- ah, wait, it’s still Wembley. 

Roma host Porto in the other last-16 tie last night, and we’ll keep you up to date with the major incidents in that game, too. 

To answer our earlier teaser, here are four players to have played for both United and PSG, along with the returning Angel Di Maria. 

Ray Wilkins
Gabriel Heinze
David Beckham
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Right, five minutes to kick-off. 

The big question that will be answered tonight: how truly good are a team that has merely beaten a string of poor teams over whom they enjoy a laughable financial advantage? 

And how good are PSG? 

A reminder of the teams. 

Champions League anthem rings around Old Trafford before PSG aim to get a Handel on a raucous atmosphere. (That was a pun for the benefit of George Hamilton, who almost certainly won’t see it)

Final reminder – VAR is In Operation tonight. 

Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Laurent Blanc among those in a capacity crowd. 

Old Trafford is observing a moment’s applause in memory of Emiliano Sala. 

1 min: PSG met with a chorus of boos as United fly out of the blocks, with Jesse Lingard smashing Bernat by the corner flag with less than thirty second son the clock. United are up for this. 

2 mins: Jesse Lingard wins a free-kick in the PSG half by running directly at Marquinhos. 

3 mins: That free-kick came to nothing. Angel Di Maria, meanwhile, has had his first touch festooned with jeers. 

5 mins: Nemanja Matic does well to foil a possible PSG break through Di Maria, only for Marcus Rashford to break up a possible United counter with a poor pass for Lingard. 

6 mins: Patient, sideways play by PSG ends in Di Maria whipping a ball wide of De Gea’s left-hand post from outside the area. Our first shot of the night. 

7 mins: Thomas Tuchel is doing a Mourinho here, and has Marquinhos man-marking Paul Pogba when United have the ball. 

8 mins: Oof! Rashford stings Buffon’s gloves with a powerful shot from a narrow angle; it came from outside the area but was set to squeeze inside the near post. The subsequent corner is wasted, and PSG win a free-kick. 

10 mins: Dani Alves tries to win a penalty by tumbling under no pressure from Shaw; referee waves play on. Kimpembe, meanwhile, is booked seconds later for hauling down Rashford on the half-way line. 

12 mins: PSG are beginning to settle now, with Veratti dictating everything in midfield. He is playing in there with Marquinhos and Draxler; Di Maria and Dani Alves either side of M’bappé. 

15 mins:  Majestic play from Paul Pogba, who knocks the ball beyond Marquinhos in midfield to the endline, then ghosts past Kimpembe and drives a low cross into Buffon’s gloves, with Lingard loitering. 

17 mins: Superb, DeBruyneesque cross by Ashley Young fromt he right wing is headed behind by Kimpembe, who did well not to divert it into his own net. The corner is taken short, and Pogba lashes a shot into the crowd. 

19 mins: Julian Draxler is booked for kicking Ander Herrera. 

20 mins: PSG look good when Veratti has the ball at his feet. They haven’t been able to involve M’bappé at all yet, however. 

22 mins: United are reverting to a 4-5-1 when they are without the ball; Lingard dropping to cover the right and Martial the left, leaving Rashford up front. 

23 mins: A very poor pass by Lingard spurns a glorious counter opportunity for United. A swift one-two with Rashford set him free, and Martial was isolated cutting in from the left. The pass, however, was hooked behind him and out of play. 

25 mins: Now Pogba is booked for a late tackle on Veratti. That’s three yellows already. 

26 mins: We have a first glimpse of M’bappé’s frightening pace: he burns Lindelof round the outside on the right-wing but ultimately finds himself isolated and his pass is deflected into De Gea’s arms. Guess it’s difficult for his team-mates to keep up with him. 

27 mins: Big chance for PSG! Veratti’s through ball is nudged by Draxler for M’bappé, who could only snap his close-range shot into the side-netting. Replays show it was slightly offside, meaning it would presumably have been disallowed by VAR. M’bappé, however, is warming up…

29 mins: Now Ashley Young is booked for pulling back M’bappé as he sprinted onto a through ball on the left-wing. United have been fairly warned by him, now. 

30 mins: United deal well with the free-kick by Di Maria, Matic heading clear. 

31 mins: Replays lingering over a slightly impetuous lunge by Pogba on Alves. Nothing particularly nasty, but he has been booked already…

32 mins: And now the similarly-booked Kimpembe gets away with a late tackle on Luke Shaw. Referee indicated Shaw dived, which was harsh.

33 mins: Our fifth card of the night: Bernat gets it for kicking Ashley Young. 

35 mins: This game has been a scrappy, knotted thing; there have been misplaced passes everywhere. The latest culprit is Veratti, who hoiks a pass to Di Maria out of play. 

36 mins: Di Maria misses a sitter! A Draxler through ball, intended for M’bappé, is instead claimed by Di Maria, who brings the ball around De Gea…and then dithers for so long his shot is saved by De Gea. The offside flag then goes up, anyway. 

37 mins: Anthony Martial, who has done nothing in this game so far, is struggling with an injury. Alexis Sanchez is warming up. 

39 mins: Now Ashley Young is booked for sending Di Maria clattering into the advertising hoarding. 

41 mins: Big roar as United win a corner. Bigger jeers as Di Maria returns. 

42 mins: Silva heads the corner clear. Martial, meanwhile, is struggling on. 

44 mins: PSG win a corner as a Bernat reverse-pass for Di Maria is cut out by Lingard. 

45 mins: Pogba clears, and Veratti makes a superb tackle on Martial to cut out a counter attack. Matic concedes a free-kick for a foul on Draxler, just outside the United penalty area. Elsewhere, Jess Lingard is down injured. He pulled up after playing a pass. 

45+2: Dani Alves whips the free-kick over the crossbar. We’ll have another minute of stoppage time. 


45+3 mins: Lingard isn’t able to continue, and he is replaced by Alexis Sanchez. 


Goalless at half-time, and Old Trafford has fallen a little subdued. Neither side have created a proper (onside) chance: United aren’t playing the reckless attacking game they might have, and PSG are giving the impression they might take a draw. 

Roma and Porto are goalless, too. 


United have been forced into a second change: Martial is gone off injured, with Juan Mata replacing him. United have certainly lost some pace. 


47 mins: Kimpembe gets away with another foul, this time for tugging back Rashford as he threatened to get away from him. 


United’s attacking ploy in the second-half thus far has been to knock the ball into the right-hand channel for Rashford. He links up well with Mata here, but crosses to nobody in particular. 

Yet another yellow card – Victor Lindelof for shoving M’Bappé. 


Sanchez’ first involvement is to, eh, give the ball away. 


Great save De Gea! A cross by Alves from the right flank finds M’Bappé in the box, who heads it low to De Gea’s left. Corner coming…


Dear oh dear, United. Shocking defending from the corner allowed Kimpembe ghost behind Matic, to steer the ball in at the back post from a couple of yards out. He was completely neglected. PSG have an away goal…and United need to release the handbrake. 


PSG attack again, Di Maria’s shot to the left of the penalty area blocked by Young. Another corner coming up…


Close! Rashford heads the corner way to Alves on the edge of the box to Alves, whose volley toward goal hits RPogba and loops behind for a corner with De Gea out of position. Said corner comes to nothing. United are on the ropes. 


Solskjaer has lost Lingard and Martial, and PSG are totally dominant. Those who feel he hasn’t been tested yet are about to see one. 


Better from United, as Herrara bounces a volley into the ground and wide of Buffon’s right-post. 


United are struggling for air as M’bappé doubles PSG’s lead. Pogba loses possession on United’s left-wing, and PSG sweep the ball to Bernat in the centre circle. He picks out Di Maria cutting in from the left-wing, whose prod toward goal is met by the dashing M’bappé. The striker rolls the ball past De Gea. 


Alves booked for fouling Pogba. Solskjaer has come to the touchline but he looks dejected. His name is being sung around Old Trafford, can United pull themselves back into this tie? 


Save De Gea! United are getting battered on the counter-attack. A hoik clear from the PSG defence finds M’bappé, who races past the United defence and finds himself one on one with the United ‘keeper. His dink is clawed away by De Gea, however, who did a Peter Schmeichel on it and made himself big. 


Now Bernat’s drive is diverted over by De Gea. He was in oceans of room on the left-flank. United are all over the place. 


United are in a very tricky situation now. They need a goal to get back in this game, but pushing on with abandon leaves them open to M’bappé’s pace on the counter and being shoved out of contention before the second leg even kicks off. 


Elsewhere, Roma lead Porto 1-0 through Nicolo Zaniolo. 


Something we should have mentioned earlier: before the second goal, Di Maria trotted over to take a corner, where he was targeted with a bottle thrown from the crowd. He faked to drink from it, and set up the second goal minutes later. He has been booed all night – has Louis Van Gaal ever stirred such passion? 


United have steadied the ship somewhat. A Herrera shot was blocked by Veratti, and now Luke Shaw has won a corner. 


The corner is dreadful and doesn’t skip the first man.


Marquinhos does well to thwart a galloping Pogba. He has done that man-marking job well, thus far. 


Thiago Silva – who has been excellent – executes a perfect slide tackle to pinch the ball from Rashford’s feet. 


2-0 Roma v Porto, Zaniolo again. 


Marco Veratti’s final act it to block a Herrara shot with his right foot, after which he limps off. New signing Leandro Paredes replaces him. Veratti is the metronome of this PSG team, and he has probably been their best player tonight. 


Silva does superbly well to head clear a Young cross. Kimpembe then clears for a corner. 


Adrian Lopez has a goal back for Porto at the Olimpico. 2-1. 


Okay, he will probably score now that we have written it…but Alexis Sanchez has been anonymous since coming on just before half-time. 


Kylian M’bappé celebrates scoring PSG’s second goal. 

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett


Di Maria leaves the field to a final symphony of boos, and makes quite a performance of applauding the PSG fans. He is replaced by Colin Dagba. 


Eight minutes to go. ‘Can Manchester United score? Manchester United alwa-well, sometimes score’.’


Herrera curls a shot well wide of Buffon’s left-hand post. He has found himself in those positions frequently in the second-half, but has lacked the quality to make anything of it. Fred might perhaps be a better option in that role, at this stage? 


Final change for United: Rashford makes way for Lukaku. Solskjaer would have been within his rights to take off Sanchez. 


PSG sloppily lose the ball in midfield, but just as it looks like Lukaku might break clear, Marquinhos materialises to win the ball. Stunning pace. 


Herrera the latest to be booked for scything down M’bappé 30 yards from goal. 


Alves drives the free-kick into the wall. 


Oof. Pogba catches Alves high and very late, and is fortunate not to pick up a second yellow and make way. 


Pogba has been sent off! He has belatedly been sent off for that challenge on Alves, for 
which he has been brandished a second yellow. Replays suggest it should probably have been a straight red card, but he will nonetheless miss the second-leg in Paris. This is a nightmare for Solskjaer. 


Now Shaw booked. There was a lot of confusion over the Pogba red: it initially seemed as if Ashley Young had been given a second yellow – Uefa reported as much – but it was Pogba who headed down the tunnel. 


Ironic cheers now from the PSG fans, as Old Trafford empties prematurely. Solskjaer’s expression has gone from ‘glum’ to ‘wry smile’. They need a miracle in Paris. 


A brutal reality check for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with goals from Kimpembe and M’bappé sealing a 2-0 first-leg win for PSG. United further lost Paul Pogba to a red card and Lingard and Martial to injury; Pogba will miss the first-leg and the latter two are surely in doubt. 

PSG were terrific, with M’bappé’s pace frightening and Veratti, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva outstanding. 

Thanks for following. Good night.

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney


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