In the space of eight weeks, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had got everyone at Manchester United dreaming again. But it took Paris Saint-Germain less than eight minutes in the second half at Old Trafford on Tuesday to leave the Norwegian hoping for a miracle if he is to lead United into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Solskjaer’s 10 wins and one draw in his opening 11 matches having succeeded Jose Mourinho, along with injuries to key PSG stars Neymar and Edinson Cavani, had made United the favourites here in so many eyes.
Yet Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe conspired to upset the form book and bring Solskjaer and United crashing back down to earth. The Argentine’s two assists in the blink of an eye and the Frenchman’s clinical finish on the hour were killer blows the home side were never going to be able to overcome. Paul Pogba’s late red card for a ridiculous challenge on Dani Alves only served to make the mountain harder to climb.
Di Maria answers the jeers
Di Maria’s frustrating spell at Manchester United after a then British record £59.7m move from Real Madrid was reflected in the barrage of jeers that accompanied him throughout this Champions League tie.
The Argentine, often poorly utilised by manager Louis van Gaal, lasted only a year before leaving United for Paris in a £44.3m deal having never produced his finest form. Here, to their pain, Manchester United and their fans witnessed exactly what they could have had.
It was his corner that fell to Kimpembe for the opener and he showed what he was really all about when he outpaced United’s retreating defense and put the second on the plate for Mbappe as he arrived with perfect timing.