Paris Saint-Germain 1-2 Manchester United: Rashford rescues Red Devils again

By Sports Desk October 20, 2020

Marcus Rashford was Manchester United's hero at the Parc des Princes once more as his late strike secured a 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in Champions League Group H on Tuesday. 

England international Rashford drilled home a stoppage-time penalty as United claimed a 3-1 win at PSG in the second leg of the last 16 in 2018-19, ensuring they progressed to the quarter-finals on away goals. 

Just as they did on that occasion, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men scored first. Bruno Fernandes tucked home a re-taken penalty after Keylor Navas stepped off his line to save the midfielder's first attempt. 

Anthony Martial's own goal restored parity but Rashford returned to haunt PSG when he fired a fine finish into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box with three minutes remaining. 

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    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged Edinson Cavani to not let his recent social media faux pas impact his mindset ahead of a crucial Champions League reunion with former club Paris Saint-Germain.

    Cavani was the star of the show and United's saviour in Sunday's 3-2 win over Southampton, coming off the bench to claim an assist and two goals – in doing so, he became the first player since Solskjaer in 1999 to have at least three goal involvements as a substitute in a single Premier League game.

    But his performance and accomplishment were overshadowed late that night when a social media post he published contained a Spanish phrase many would consider to be racially insensitive.

    Cavani deleted it once he had been informed of its potential to cause offence and issued an apology on Monday, explaining that it was meant as a show of affection towards a friend who had paid tribute to him.

    On Wednesday, United host PSG – of whom Cavani is still the record goalscorer – in the Champions League knowing a point will be enough to secure a last-16 place, but unsurprisingly the attention was on Cavani in Solskjaer's pre-match news conference.

    "Of course, we communicated with Edi, he's deeply sorry for the mistake," Solskjaer told reporters. "There was no malicious intent, just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his. We've explained to him and he's been asked to explain to the FA [Football Association], so of course he'll cooperate with them and we'll support him."

    Solskjaer also stressed the importance of the FA getting involved, insisting United must play their part in stamping out discrimination.

    "I think it's one of those unfortunate situations where he's just come into the country, where in Uruguay it's used in a different way to here," he continued. "We'll support him, but we support the FA and it's important they've asked him to explain and that it's out there for everyone to see, because we want to be in the fight against discrimination with everyone."

    But Solskjaer accepts the controversy, coupled with the emotional aspect of Cavani facing his old club, could have an impact on the striker's mindset.

    He said: "He's ready to play. Of course, it's special for him to play against PSG, so that'll affect him mentally and, I think from knowing him, it'll give him energy. He'll be ready, he's so professional and experienced.

    "He'll work on his mindset today and tomorrow to be ready, which the same goes for the FA situation.

    "He's learned his lesson - it may affect him, but he just needs to put it to the side during the game. The best players can put the problems or the other thoughts away for a while and then perform when he has to."

    His social media mistake aside, Solskjaer has been impressed by Cavani since his arrival at the start of October – though he urged the Uruguayan to get better at parking his car.

    "I've been impressed with his attention to detail in everything - apart from his parking. He's parking too close to the other players and coaching staff sometimes," Solskjaer quipped.

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    Messi scored his side's fourth goal in fine style during Sunday's 4-0 home win over Osasuna.

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    He then pointedly saluted the sky in honour of his compatriot, who spent a season towards the end of his career with Newell's - the club where Messi began his youth career.

    Following the victory, Koeman told the media how impressed he was both with his captain's finish and with the way he chose to pay his respects to his compatriot.

    The yellow card shown to Messi, which regulations state will come with a €3,000 fine for Barca, has attracted attention after the match and Koeman believes it should be overturned.

    Speaking ahead of Wednesday's away Champions League match against Ferencvaros, for which Messi will be rested, Koeman said: "We know that there is a rule [relating to the award of] the yellow card.

    "But we also know that it was his dedication to Maradona when he took off his shirt. 

    "It's not my decision, but for me I would take it off."

    Barca are hopeful the yellow card decision will be changed.

    According to Sport, they will use the precedent of Sergio Ramos having a booking overturned on sentimental grounds in 2007 after he paid tribute to Sevilla star Antonio Puerta to argue their case.

    Barcelona have won all of their previous five competitive meetings with Hungarian sides and dominated the Camp Nou fixture against Ferencvaros in a 5-1 triumph last month.

    Messi opened the scoring with a penalty in that game and also laid on a late assist for Ousmane Dembele.

    However, he will now sit out of a second straight Champions League match, having also been rested for the 4-0 win over Dynamo Kiev last time out in the competition.

    Barca have fared surprisingly well without Messi, winning eight of their last nine Champions League games that he missed and drawing the other since losing to Ajax in 2013, according to Opta statistics.

    The club are looking to win each of their first five UEFA Champions League group stage games for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.

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    Lionel Messi will miss a second successive Champions League match after Ronald Koeman took the opportunity to rest him once again.

    Messi's absence is not an issue Barca have often had to deal with down the years in the Champions League, particularly in recent times – the 4-0 win over Dynamo Kiev last time out was only the fourth in 43 matches in the competition that he has not featured in.

    Nevertheless, one would expect Barca to have enough firepower to see off their hosts on Wednesday and they are undefeated in their previous nine Champions League games without Messi since a 2-1 loss to Ajax in November 2013.

    Barca crushed the Hungarian champions 5-1 at Camp Nou in October and are already assured of a place in the next round having won all of their first four matches in Group G.

    As such, Koeman wants to take every opportunity to rest his star man in what is proving a hectic season.

    "I understand that it is not normal, but in the calendar this season there were two moments for Leo Messi to rest, Kiev and tomorrow, because we are already qualified," Koeman told reporters on Tuesday.

    "It allows me to give opportunities to other players and the Saturday games in the league are very important. From tomorrow there is no more [chance] to rest him.

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    "He always likes to play and it's good that he has this mentality, but I spoke with him and asked him, but the final decision is up to the coach.

    "I wanted to give him rest in Kiev and tomorrow. For the rest of the season he may not get any more rest because we play every three days."

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho are two others who have been afforded a rest and left out of the travelling party.

    Messi is expected to return for Barca's final group match next week against Juventus and long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

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