Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United can cause another Champions League surprise: Solskjaer


Staying positive: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes United can progress, despite Alexis Sanchez becoming the latest injury at the club
Staying positive: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes United can progress, despite Alexis Sanchez becoming the latest injury at the club

By Simon Peach

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United can spark another memorable Paris St-Germain collapse, despite 10 absentees compounding their difficult Champions League challenge.

United have to make history at the Parc des Princes if they are to progress from tonight's last-16 clash, given all 106 teams that have previously secured a 2-0 first leg away win in the European Cup have made it through.

Solskjaer admits that they have a mountain to climb, but the caretaker manager was quick to point to their European history and PSG's soft underbelly.

It is just two years since the perennial Ligue 1 champions were on the wrong end of Champions League history when Barcelona recovered from a 4-0 loss in Paris to win the second leg of their last-16 tie 6-1.

"Everyone knows that we can do it, we have done it before - and look at the results in the Champions League in the last few years," Solskjaer said.

"I don't want to call it strange, but last year Juventus lost 3-0 at home against Real Madrid and suddenly they were 3-0 up after 90 minutes against Madrid away.

"The year before that, PSG against Barcelona. We all remember those results. So there are so many examples of teams who can change results like this.

"Also, as a club, we've done it so many times. The players have been fantastic away from home, beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, which has given us the belief we can do this as well."

That belief, and United's current club-record run of eight successive away wins, is why Solskjaer says this second leg was "never mission impossible".

If the players need further inspiration, they only need to look to the 1999 treble hero or former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who travelled with the squad but will not be making a speech in Paris.

"It's a difficult task but we can do it," Solskjaer said.

"We need the first goal and we need to stay in the game. If there's half an hour left and there's one goal in it, anything can happen. But we need a good plan, it needs to be put in place and we need to perform on the night."

United have the players to hurt PSG, it is just that Solskjaer will be without 10 of them.

Paul Pogba travelled to Paris but his red card at the end of the first leg means he is suspended, while Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic are all unavailable.

Anthony Martial, Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian are other absentees, while Alexis Sanchez became the latest to miss out after sustaining a knee injury in Saturday's thrilling 3-2 comeback win against Southampton.

"It was a bad knee injury so if it's four weeks or six, hopefully he'll recover quickly," Solskjaer said of Sanchez.

"We've lost a few players. We'll cope with that, we'll have a good team. We didn't lose any in the last game - Alexis was the one we struggled to get fit for now."

That clutch of absentees has seen United turn to the academy. Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes and James Garner have travelled with the squad again, with 18-year-old Brandon Williams joining up with the senior team for the first time.


Man United

Champions League Last-16 (Agg 2-0)

Parc des Princes, Tonight, 8pm

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