A rainy Parisian tryst seemed to continue right where it left off for Manchester United.
The Red Devils found their return to Champions League football in dominating fashion with a convincing 2-1 win over PSG at the Parc des Princes.
Incidentally, no PSG player was on the scoresheet with Anthony Martial heading in the unfortunate own-goal that cancelled out Bruno Fernandes’ early penalty. However, yet another late attempt from Marcus Rashford secured the win for the Premier League side.
1. Lineup Gamble Paid Off
Heads would have certainly been scratched when the lineups were announced ahead of kick-off. While PSG’s side was predictable owing to injury and other woes, Ole Gunnar Solskjær certainly took several gambles.
For starters, a late injury to captain Harry Maguire meant that match-shy Axel Tuanzebe started in a back-three alongisde Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw.
Bruno Fernandes yet again got the nod ahead of Paul Pogba with Scott McTominay and Fred populating the midfield pivot.
Fortunately for the Norwegian, each of those gambles paid off well with Tuanzebe giving Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr a hard time while Fernandes scripted a great start that Pogba cemented as a substitute.
2. Telles Debut
A new name dotted the starting lineup and fans would certainly be pleased with what they saw.
Alex Telles is already looking to be an excellent addition to the side. The 27-year-old’s crosses were impeccable and it is a given that with more chemistry drills, they will certainly end up at the clinical feet of one of United’s talented attackers.
This gives the side much variety on the flanks and adds another element of goal-scoring threat that isn’t always evident.
3. Penalty Dynamics
As has become the case with United, penalty controversy flowed abundantly. The Red Devils style of play means that they often get into spots wherein penalties are awarded.
On Tuesday, however, it can be argued that Anthony Martial made the most out of a touch inside the box in order to win the spot-kick.
However, in a more worthwhile talking point, Bruno Fernandes’ initial attempt was actually saved by Navas. This would have been the second time in a span of three days that the Portuguese midfielder had missed a penalty. However, VAR did rule the PSG keeper to have his legs off the line, necessitating a retake which Fernandes took once more and made no mistake about.
4. Poor From Anthony Martial
In an erstwhile excellent display from the Red Devils, Anthony Martial did have a poor game. Weak touches kept repeating throughout the fixture and the Frenchman was also prone to not making the best out of provided chances.
With his pending suspension in domestic football, Martial will have to do his best to not make the kind of errors that led to the own-goal. This is particularly vital now that the side has Edinson Cavani as a back-up option.
5. De Gea’s Heroics
This entire fixture appeared to be David De Gea effectively and systematically silencing his critics. The Spaniard made the precise sort of picturesque and timely saves that first put him on the radar as one of the world’s best goalkeepers.
Mbappe and Neymar would have found multiple goals if not for his heroics and they were certainly well-appreciated. Incidentally, now one does wonder about the larger role of Dean Henderson though. While still young, saving him solely for domestic cup ties does seem a bit unfair to his potential and calibre.
6. Table Dynamics
The highly competitive Group H now has an interesting look after the first round of fixtures. RB Leipzig’s win over Istanbul Basaksehir does put them in a strong position.
As such, the meeting between United and the German side will be an electric affair to put an early hold on the top spot at the end of this month.
Which side will come out on top?