PARIS - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed he’s still a specialist in delivering last-minute victories for Manchester United in the Champions League. Paris Saint-Germain, though, remains a specialist in failure on Europe’s biggest stage.
Marcus Rashford’s injury-time penalty sent Solskjaer’s revitalized side through to the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, securing a 3-1 win at PSG to overturn a two-goal deficit from the first leg.
Solskjaer, who scored an injury-time winner in the final to cap a late comeback for United in 1999, oversaw more late drama 20 years later. It was the first time in Champions League history that a team lost the first leg at home by a two-goal margin and still went through.
United has yet to confirm whether Solskjaer will get the job on a full-time basis, despite the former Norway striker having completely transformed the side after replacing Jose Mourinho. This win, though, will have strengthened his chances considerably — although Solskjaer isn’t taking anything for granted.
“It’s been a fantastic time with the players and the staff I’ve got,” Solskjaer said. “I’m going to enjoy my job as long as I’ve got it. . . . I’m going to smile.”
For PSG, there was only reason for despair. The big-spending French club once again fell apart in a favorable position, two years after also making history in the last 16 by throwing away a 4-0 lead against Barcelona and losing 6-1 in the return leg.
Coach Thomas Tuchel, hired after predecessor Unai Emery went out in the last 16 two years running, clung hopefully to the idea his side played better over the two legs in what he describe as a “crazy” match.
“It’s very hard to lose and very hard to accept,” he said. “We didn’t deserve to go out after 180 minutes.”
Referee Damir Skomina awarded United’s penalty after a lengthy video review that showed defender Presnel Kimpembe jumping up to block Diogo Dalot’s shot with his elbow.
Rashford kept his nerve for the spot kick, blasting the ball past Gianluigi Buffon to send the United fans to his left into raptures.
“The kid is fearless. He’s got no doubt. Slotted it in. Brilliant,” Solskjaer said. “I hope (the penalty) was the right decision.”
Tuchel refused to blame VAR.
“I’m a big supporter of VAR and I stay a big supporter. With the hand it’s a super difficult thing because there are too many points: do we punish it or not punish it?” he said. “I think it’s a 50-50 decision, it’s difficult. There are reasons why you can give this penalty.”
Neymar, who is recovering from injury and watched on in horror from the sideline as the penalty was taken, disagreed. He blasted the officials angrily on his Instagram account.
“This is a disgrace!” he wrote. “And they put four guys that do not understand football to watch it in slow motion.”
Neymar also aimed an expletive at the officials.
United’s players were far happier after a ninth straight away win.
As they sprinted to celebrate with their fans at the final whistle, Kimpembe lay flat on the ground for several moments as a stunned Parc des Princes crowd looked on in disbelief.
United was only given a slim chance going into the game, with Solskjaer’s task made even harder by the fact that 10 of his players were either injured or suspended. That included midfielder Paul Pogba, who was sent off at Old Trafford.
“Everything seemed to be against us, but we’re used to that,” Rashford said. “We showed what we’re about today and got the result we needed.”
United was handed an immediate lifeline when PSG gifted United striker Romelu Lukaku a second-minute opening goal. The burly Belgium striker intercepted a back pass from Thilo Kehrer, rounded Buffon and slid the ball in from a tight angle.
Left-back Juan Bernat equalized for PSG in the 12th, turning in a cross at the back post after Kylian Mbappe got behind United’s static defense.
Then, the hugely experienced Buffon spilled a low shot from Rashford and Lukaku turned in the rebound.
“We agreed that when Marcus steps out on the press that I would follow,” Lukaku said. “I told him every time he shoots I’ll follow the ball.”
Sensing Buffon’s uncertainty, Rashford fired another shot just wide as United finished the first half strongly.
Porto 3, Roma 1
In Porto, Portugal, Alex Telles scored a penalty in extra time to send Porto into the Champions League quarterfinals with a victory over Roma, overturning a one-goal deficit from the first leg.
Telles converted the spot kick two minutes from time after Alessandro Florenzi had been penalized following a video review for pulling back Fernando.
That sent Porto through 4-3 on aggregate.
In the Estadio do Dragao, Porto needed to fight back from a 2-1 loss in Rome and attacked from the start.
It took a deserved lead in the 26th minute when Moussa Marega rolled the ball across the box for Tiquinho Soares to tap in from close range.
That would have sent Porto through on the away goals rule, but Roma leveled 11 minutes later after Diego Perotti was brought down by Eder Militao and Daniele De Rossi converted the resulting penalty, sending fellow veteran Iker Casillas the wrong way following a stuttering run-up.
De Rossi then limped off on the stroke of halftime with a muscular injury and was replaced by Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Porto had ended the first half on top, with Hector Herrera forcing a fine save from Robin Olsen, and it started the second half in the same vein.
And the Portuguese champions retook the lead seven minutes after the break when Marega volleyed in Jesus Corona’s cross from close range. Roma had several chances to level and also had a penalty appeal of its own turned down in stoppages of extra time after video review showed Marega had not fouled Patrik Schick.