PARIS • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for his “excellent” Manchester United side on Tuesday after Marcus Rashford’s late strike saw them win at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League for the second time in three seasons.
“The performance was good and we deserved to win it. It was a better performance than last time and it shows how we have developed,” the United boss said following the 2-1 victory at the Parc des Princes in their Group H opener.
Rashford’s 87th-minute effort decided the encounter in United’s favour after Anthony Martial’s own goal had cancelled out Bruno Fernandes’ penalty.
It was a stunning three points for the Premier League side away to last season’s Champions League runners-up, and Solskjaer was delighted with the way his defence largely kept quiet the hosts’ star attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria.
“We played against a fantastic team, and we have to defend well. The players have the keys. I don’t think there is any secret, we need to play well and defend well to win against PSG,” he said.
The Norwegian elected to hand a debut at left-back to transfer deadline recruit Alex Telles and play with Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe in a three-man central defence. It was the latter’s first start of the year due to injuries, but the United academy graduate looked like he had never been away.
“We know Axel’s qualities, he’s a top defender. His first game in 10 months which is testament to the defender he is,” Solskjaer said.
Pundit Owen Hargreaves agreed that Tuanzebe should keep his spot even when Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly return from injury, telling BT Sport: “He’s not getting out of the side – if you’ve got this much athleticism in these positions.”
Solskjaer also praised Rashford, whose dramatic last-gasp penalty at the same end had given them a 3-1 victory here in the last 16 in March last year.
Joking that the forward “likes that side of the stadium”, the Norwegian added: “It’s a different feeling from the last time we won here, it’s at the start of the group stage but we’ve beaten a fantastic team.
“Last time, it was a knockout and it was euphoric, this is sterile without the fans, but it’s still excellent and we deserved to win.”
Group H remains one of the trickier draws, with United facing last season’s Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig at home next week. The German side had beaten Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0 on Tuesday.
Months between PSG’s last two Champions League defeats at the Parc des Princes, both times to Manchester United.
After that, the Red Devils have a double-header against the Turkish champions, with PSG still to visit Old Trafford in December.
“We know that to get through, you probably need 10 points,” Solskjaer said. “We only have three so Leipzig is a big game but we have Chelsea next then Arsenal after (Leipzig).”
Following PSG’s defeat – their first group-stage home loss in 25 years – the group is now very much open, leaving coach Thomas Tuchel a worried man in the dugout.
The French treble winners have been beset by injuries – five first-team players were absent against United – and they suffered another blow when an already unfit Idrissa Gueye had to go off with a problem.
Admitting that PSG were never at the races, Tuchel said: “There was no intensity, no aggressiveness, no pressing, no counter-pressing. It was weird, I don’t know why.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS