Twenty-year-old Marcus Rashford may have entrenched himself among the redoubtables of one of English football’s most successful clubs as he scored a monumental injury-time penalty to give Manchester United an unexpected 3-1 victory over reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night.
Having lost the first leg 2-0 at Old Trafford three weeks ago, nothing short of a miracle was going to keep a badly depleted United side in club football’s most prestigious competition.
But Rashford thumped home the VAR-awarded spot-kick in the 94th minute after Diogo Dalot’s speculative shot struck Presnel Kimpembe on the arm.
The odds were stacked against United in Paris, as PSG, at one point, had over 73 percent ball possession.
The Ole Gunnar Solskjaer-led lads, without seven first team players, got the perfect start thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s opportunist strike after two minutes. The Belgium striker latched on to Thilo Kehrer’s blind backpass and found the net.
PSG equalised on the night to move 3-1 ahead on aggregate when Kylian Mbappe fed a pass to the unmarked Juan Bernat, who slotted home at the back post.
The hosts then had a succession of chances, with makeshift right-back Eric Bailly enduring a torrid time in his 35 minutes on the pitch, before injury saw him replaced by Dalot.
Unable to capitalise, PSG were punished when veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon spilled Rashford’s long-range shot and Lukaku converted United’s second.
The game appeared to be petering out to its conclusion before Dalot’s speculative long-range strike hit the arm of the unfortunate Kimpembe, and after a long delay while the referee consulted his pitch-side monitor, Rashford’s cool-headed penalty sealed a remarkable win.
By this victory, United have become the first team in Champions League and European Cup history, at the 107th time of asking, to overcome a 2-0 or greater home first-leg deficit.
3-3 on aggregate, the lads from Manchester have qualified for the last-eight on the away goals rule.
The draw for the quarter-finals takes place on Friday, March 15.