In what stood as a test night for Manchester United, the 2-0 defeat against PSG (Paris Saint-Germain F.C. ) put an end to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s streak of not losing a match ever since he joined as the club’s caretaker manager.
Against a PSG side missing Neymar and Edinson Cavani, Solskjaer lost two of his own dynamic front three before the start of the second half, following which Fresnel Kimpembe (53′) and Kylian Mbappe (60′) led PSG to a 2-0 win while Paul Pogba was sent off at the 89th minute with a red card.
Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard returned to the United line-up, having been rested in the stroll against Fulham on Saturday.
PSG’s profligacy in front of goal twice denied VAR its first airing on debut night in the Champions League, with Mbappe and Angel Di Maria both missing when one-on-one from offside positions.
Instead, the on-field official, Daniele Orsato took centre stage, dishing out before the break, though Ashley Young’s shove to send Di Maria hurtling into a painful collision with the railings went unpunished, with the Englishman already in the book.
That card had come when he was forced to haul Mbappe down, the 20-year-old for the most part isolated, but on two occasions displaying an electric a 50-yard burst and a clean pair of heels.
Having gifted him the chance to face PSG without two of their best players because of injury, the footballing gods turned on Solskjaer, as Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial both went down late in the first half.
Martial was replaced by Juan Mata by interval, while Lingard didn’t even get that far, making way for Alexis Sanchez in stoppage time.
On the loss, Solskjaer believes that this is not a season-defining defeat.
“You can see that we’ve not played games at this level for a while and we’ll have to learn from this experience, because it was one of those experiences that can go either way. It’s not going to be a season defining one for us. It has to be one that we’re going to learn from.”
While, Solksjaer emphasized on the need to believe in the second leg, he stated that this match was indeed a reality check.
“Of course it was a reality check. You can see their strength they have when they put those players in [Neymar and Edinson Cavani], but then again, that’s the level we want to get to. We are looking to strengthen the squad and we have to learn with so many youngsters, to make the step up next season.”
The Red Devils are all set to face Chelsea for the 5th round of the FA Cup on 19th February and Liverpool for Champion’s League on 24th February. The Manchester United have currently stand at the 4th position in the Premier League table.