@NickAmes82 Do United need to win tonight to get the job done? A draw would mean better head to head against PSG. Guaranteed to finish above them.December 2, 2020
Just to reiterate for anyone coming in late, a draw *is* all United need.
56 min: PSG haven’t really offered much in this half. United have had the better moments so far, and the bigger miss.
54 min: Fred lets fly from range and it’s deflected wide. This game is looking very open and PSG are leaving gaps. They don’t leak anything from Telles’s corner, though.
51 min: That, though, was what United will hope for plenty of in this half. The chance came from Neymar’s side, the United right and PSG’s left, and he is showing his usual levels of interest in covering back.
49 min: Huge miss from Martial! United break beautifully, Cavani slipping Rashford in. Rashford then lays it across and it’s on a plate for Martial 10 yards out ... but, perhaps put off by the run from a covering defender if we are being really generous, he skies an absolute sitter!
Updated at 9.09pm GMT
48 min: PSG spend the early minutes of the half pushing, without stringing anything of real note together.
47 min: Interesting from Robert Lin, who says – “The referee also made a technical mistake in the Fred incident. Once he checks the VAR, he has to make a decision either red card or nothing, there is no middle ground in the rulebook, he is not allowed to just give yellow. Fred is a very lucky man.”
I promised you a second half, and a second half we now have.
We have a second half coming your way very soon – and it should be a belter. United will be very, very keen to get this done tonight. Needing a result in Leipzig wouldn’t be the best.
“Zinedine Zidane should see if VAR can get his red rescinded from the World Cup final,” suggests Niall Mullen.
Haha, indeed. For those not watching: it was not in that league, but the decision only to wield a yellow was pretty inexplicable.
“Solskjaer needs to take off Fred, who is only a mild provocation away from a red card now,” writes Justin Kavanagh, and I’d probably agree. Matic or, if he’s feeling bold, Van de Beek are both on the bench. Fred and Paredes have been needling ever since the incident and both are on tightropes.
An eventful half. PSG scored early through Neymar and looked in the mood to run away with it. Then Fred was, rather incredibly, only booked after a VAR monitor check for a headbutt on Paredes, and that seemed to perk United up. Rashford was behind an own goal from Danilo, and both sides have had moments since. PSG, and Neymar, complain vociferously as they go in, but level it is.
Updated at 9.01pm GMT
45 min: Fernandes is played in from deep behind the PSG defence and you’d beg him to smash it first-time ... but he tries to delicately lay it forward to Cavani and gets it all wrong.
44 min: Neymar is rolling around in apparent agony after McTominay, who’d tackled him fairly, accidentally trod on his ankle as he recovered balance. He’ll be fine.
43 min: Fred springs Rashford away down the right and the forward seeks out Cavani, but his cross is stopped at source.
41 min: Another searching Florenzi cross is too far in front of Mbappe. Will PSG go all-out in the second half?
40 min: Neymar plays a free-kick to Mbappe, but he can’t skin Wan Bissaka and fires a speculative low cross that De Gea holds.
38 min: Fred and Paredes, those two old buddies, contest a shuddering challenge in midfield. Paredes goes down and Orsato has a card out ... but the PSG man is booked. He was probably the later into that one but Fred is walking a tightrope now. He shouldn’t be on the pitch as it is.
Updated at 8.39pm GMT
35 min: PSG respond with a couple of corners. Their level had dropped for 10 minutes and they were punished. More of what they began with and they’d probably still back themselves, but United currently have the point they need.
But they do score! Martial makes a purposeful run and shoots low from inside the ‘D’, Navas parrying away to his left. But it’s worked back to Rashford, who cross-shoots from 20 yards at an angle on the right. Danilo sticks out a foot and inadvertently jabs it inside Navas’s near post!
Updated at 9.00pm GMT
31 min: PSG’s early vim and fluidity has certainly died down a little. United are getting among them much more quickly, without really looking like scoring themselves.
29 min: United have had the wind in their sails since Fred’s non-dismissal, but Florenzi blocks a Telles cross. Fernandes is starting to get on the ball a little.
27 min: Paredes made a meal of the earlier incident, no doubt. But look, Fred has to go I’m afraid.
26 min: United win a corner. Fred going to lash one top bins here? No, McTominay does get on the end of it but nods straight at Navas.
24 min: Well! Replays showed Fred clearly pushed his head into Paredes, and if you remember Nicolas Pepe’s red card for Arsenal at Leeds it was a clearer red card than that one. But the referee, Daniele Orsato, runs back from looking at the monitor and only books him! That is bizarre, I must say. United and Fred have got away with one there, a red card seemed inevitable as soon as Orsato went over to check and as soon as we saw replays.
Updated at 8.34pm GMT
22 min: Some handbags! Or worse? Paredes has gone down in a heap after what may have been a head movement from Fred, and neither set of players looks happy at all. We have a VAR check ...
19 min: United are at least seeing more of the ball now, at least until Telles needlessly fouls the backtracking Mbappe when chasing a deep cross from their right.
17 min: Mbappe just overcooks a lay-off that would have put Kean through on goal, after a rapier break led by him and Neymar. Then De Gea grabs onto an acrobatic Neymar volley from the edge of the box. PSG look so threatening.
16 min: Just before the goal, Patrick Treacy wrote in. “I see a tough result here for United. Martial won’t offer much protection down his side – puts a lot on Fred and McTominay who’ll have a lot of precise work to get through.”
Meanwhile United get their first real look at goal, Navas gathering a pea roller from Rashford.
Updated at 8.16pm GMT
14 min: A teasing Florenzi delivery from the right only narrowly evades a stretching Neymar.
Updated at 8.15pm GMT
13 min: At the moment the best policy for United is probably the one they set out with – to counter at speed when they win the ball. No point leaving more gaps at this stage of the game, and the difference between a 1-0 and 2-0 defeat is actually *huge* here given head-to-head rules.
11 min: They almost do get another, Florenzi hammering an effort across from angle after Fred concedes possession. A diving De Gea paws it away. PSG are in total control so far.
9 min: As things stand, United lead the group from both PSG and Leipzig on head to head (they won 2-1 in Paris so scored an extra away goal; they hammered Leipzig at home), but it’s mightily tight and PSG will sense there are more goals in this for them.
It’s not overly surprising given the flow of the first six minutes. Moments after Rashford squanders a decent position on the break, the ball is worked to Mbappe and he lets fly from 20 yards. It deflects off a defender and spins to the right of the six-yard box, and a razor-sharp Neymar has anticipated it perfectly. He’s first to it and arrows a finish across De Gea.
Updated at 8.26pm GMT
5 min: PSG with most of the early possession here and a fair dollop of intent, too. The counter will be key for United here, I sense. The visitors win the game’s first corner, swung in by a healthier-seeming Neymar from the left, but McTominay heads away. There are appeals from PSG for some sort of handball, but they aren’t getting anything.
3 min: Neymar has had a couple of early runs and seems to have taken a clattering of his own. He’s hobbling and wincing after appearing to take a knock on the knee – but he continues.
1 min: Verratti takes an early knock from a full-blooded challenge by Fred. He’s up though. Shaping up for a feisty contest.
PSG, in white shirts with a nifty red stripe, kick off and shoot from right to left.
And now the teams are out on the pitch – kick-off is imminent!
PSG are top of Ligue 1 by a couple of points but were held 2-2 at home by Bordeaux at the weekend – Moise Kean, who didn’t have much fun at Old Trafford last season but starts tonight – scored in that game.
Focusing purely on Old Trafford in a moment but in perfect fodder for multi-taskers, Scott Murray is bringing you Sevilla v Chelsea.
Incredible – RB Leipzig have won that game 4-3 deep into added time, through Alexander Sorloth. This group remains on a knife-edge!
Wow, it is now Basaksehir 3-3 Leipzig – you look away for one moment and the Turkish side score *twice*. Kahveci has scored a hat-trick for them – and Leipzig will kick themselves as they were 2-0 and 3-1 up. This would be a boost to both United and, especially, PSG.
I have a treat for you. Guardian *legends* Daniel Harris and Rob Smyth have started a weekly Manchester United podcast, “United Rewind”, looking back at classic United matches. They’ve kicked it off with the Norwich game from the 1992/93 title chase – all information here. Needless to say, it will be top-notch.
RB Leipzig are winning 3-1 at Basaksehir so, if PSG do slip up tonight, they’ll be at severe risk of Europa League football after Christmas. Big showdown against Real Madrid? That top three will look very tight indeed, though, if that result holds and PSG win tonight – they’d all be on nine points.
Neil Carter emails on United: “Feeling relatively relaxed about tonight, we have performed well against them recently and have nothing to fear here tonight if we perform. I understand why Ole would want to start with two defensive midfielders but would have preferred to have seen Donny start instead of McTominay. Fingers crossed!”
Yes, Nemanja Matic drops out and – as Neil says – is replaced by the returning Scott McTominay. Anthony Martial is in with Cavani, while Van de Beek and Mason Greenwood are back on the bench.
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; Fred, McTominay; Rashford, Fernandes, Martial; Cavani. Subs: Henderson, Bailly, Fosu-Mensah, Williams, James, Lingard, Mata, Matic, Pogba, van de Beek, Greenwood, Ighalo.
PSG: Navas; Florenzi, Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Diallo; Verratti, Danilo, Paredes; Kean, Neymar, Mbappe. Subs: Rico, Letellier, Kehrer, Di Maria, Rafinha, Kurzawa, Herrera, Bakker, Gueye, Dagba, Pembele, Fadiga.
The big news is that Edinson Cavani starts against PSG, for whom he is the all-time record goalscorer. Cavani turned things around against Southampton as a sub at the weekend before making a foolish mistake on social media that rather sullied the achievement. He has since apologised. Law of the ex suggests he may be in the headlines for more positive reasons again tonight.
Manchester United are, you could say, on the early stages of a roll. They’ve won four in a row and it’s their best run since the eight-game streak in December 2019/January 2019 that directly coincided with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival at the helm. Ole’s at the wheel and, while there’ve still been a few notable bumps in the road, United feel fairly upwardly-mobile now.
Could Paris Saint-Germain stick a spanner in the works? Well, of course they could, because they’re PSG and if everyone’s at it they can rip you apart. When they’re not, they might as well be a team of strangers. But this looks like being a tough, tense contest: PSG sit three points behind United, who won 2-1 at Parc des Princes in October, and level with RB Leipzig. The German side are facing Istanbul Basaksehir, themselves not out of it, as we speak. United will go through if they get a draw in either of the next two games, but wouldn’t really want to travel to Leipzig next week in need of it.
So will United rock on and get the necessary? Or will it all go down to the final matchday? We’ll find out very soon indeed!