Marcus Rashford scored a late goal to give Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Paris Saint Germain in their first game of this season. Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring by slotting away a penalty mid way through first half which was cancelled by Anthony Martial own goal early in second half.
PSG started the game with their usual 4-3-3 formation. In the early moments of the first half PSG dominated most of the possession and created those chances, but with the absence of Veratti, PSG struggled to break through United defence. Neymar dropped deep to receive the ball but that created a man shortage for PSG in the attack. So eventually there were no spaces opening up for the likes of Mbappe or Di Maria to work into. Kurzawa provided some much width to this PSG side from the left flank but that was not enough to create problems for United defence. Lack of creativity and penetrative passing from their midfielders cost them the first half.
In the second half Tuchel introduced Moise Kean to play as the proper striker or rather as a target man which played in PSG's part. This meant that Neymar could move back into the midfield to play at no.10 role and PSG would have an extra man up front. Now United defenders had problem to cope up with Neymar and with the constant presence of Kean along side Mbappe and Di Maria defenders had trouble marking them. With Kurzawa, Mbappe and Neymar all three working in cohesion and purpose on the left side PSG were slowly creeping into the game which resulted in the own goal.
PSG changed their formation to 5-2-3 while defending. Danilo tucked in between Kimpembe and Diallo to counter United's 3 at the back formation. PSG's forward pressing was great, at times United found it very hard to get past their own half. In the second half PSG's intensity increased as they were searching for the equaliser. This left some gaps behind their midfielders but Diallo and Danilo defended exceptionally well to fill those pockets of spaces.
United started with 5-3-2 formation mainly trying to attack through the flanks. It was anticipated that United would be on back foot and probably would have to play counterattacking football for most of the game. Today was no such exception, as players found themselves unable to get past the half line in the opening minutes. But as the game progressed, United increasingly found openings to attack. Shaw and Telles both were moving forward on the left side which heavily impacted PSG's Flourenzi who was playing as right back. He had to deal with two players alone and was not able to conjure up anything in possession. With both of them pushing forward PSG defence was stretched to cover both of them which left some gaps in the middle of the park. Rashford and Martial took advantage of these spaces to get into some dangerous positions in first half.
Ole decided to change the formation to 4-4-2 in the second half when he introduced Pogba into the game. This was a good move considering PSG were getting more aggressive to get that equaliser, it created some spaces behind the midfield. Now United were focused playing centrally and trying to play quick counter attacks whenever possible. Fred and Pogba were carrying the ball towards the half line deep from their own half taking almost half of the PSG players out of the game temporarily. This was the reason United dominated more towards the end of the game and eventually scored that winner.
United maintained their formation when not in possession. They formed a very narrow and compact back line and whenever PSG tried to attack they had a numerical advantage over them while defending. Fred and McTominay had some problems defending against Neymar but as the game went on they got one over him. In the second half when PSG introduced Kean on to pitch, United were under the pump but still managed to come out of that by conceding only from a set piece. United were disciplined without possession not giving much away to Mbappe or Neymar. Credit must also be given to Wan-Bissaka, the way he handled Kurzawa, Neymar and Mbappe on his own was incredible.
It seems like Paris has become Ole's favoured hunting ground. Last time when he came here, his side overturned a 2-0 away goals deficit to win the game 3-3 on away goals and now again managed to get a 2-1 victory and start this year's Champions League campaign with crucial 3 points. With last season semifinalist and finalist in the same group as United, these points will come handy in the business end of the group stage.
For PSG though there is lot of work to do. Without their talisman Marco Veratti in the midfield it seems that there is no supply line for their forwards. This is the first game of the season so still there is a long time to go but with Leipzig in their group they certainly need to get their game together if they want to one up their previous seasons achievement.
One particularly interesting battle was between Mbappe and Rashford. Mbappe showed the greater quality in possession but he never really looked like scoring whereas Rashford had some questionable moments with the ball yet always looked a whisker away from scoring and it was not surprising he would prove to be the matchwinner. In contrast to these two's livewire battle, Martial and Neymar played at a much slower tempo and did not look threatening for the most part.
PSG: Keylar Navas, A. Florenzi, A. Diallo, P. Kimpembe, L. Kurzawa, D. Pereira, I. Gueye, A. Herrera, Neymar, K. Mbappe, A. Di Maria.
Manchester United: D. de Gea, L. Shaw, V. Lindelof, A. Tuenzebe, A. Telles, Fred, S. McTominay, A. Wan-Bissaka, B. Fernandes, M. Rashford, A. Martial