Last-gasp Marcus Rashford penalty stuns PSG and sends Manchester United into quarterfinals

Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after the epic match. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 07 March 2019
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Last-gasp Marcus Rashford penalty stuns PSG and sends Manchester United into quarterfinals

PARIS: Marcus Rashford scored a stoppage-time penalty awarded after a VAR review to give Manchester United a stunning 3-1 win away to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday as they improbably went through to the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals.
A seriously depleted United looked to have given themselves too much to do after losing 2-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie last month, yet a Romelu Lukaku brace in the first half at the Parc des Princes gave them hope.
Even so, Juan Bernat had netted in between for PSG, and it looked as though they would stumble on until the drama at the death.
Slovenian referee Damir Skomina awarded a spot-kick after reviewing the images when he had been alerted of a possible handball by PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe in the box.
Rashford duly beat Gianluigi Buffon from 12 yards, as United won a European tie after losing the first leg at home for the first time in their history.
Their improbable victory — following Ajax’s similarly stunning turnaround against holders Real Madrid 24 hours earlier — takes them through to the last eight for the first time since 2014.
Their remarkable revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues, with the Norwegian now having overseen nine consecutive away wins, a club record.
While they celebrate, for PSG this defeat will feel like groundhog day.
For the third year running they fail to make the quarter-finals, after their defeat at the hands of Real Madrid a year ago and their humiliating collapse against Barcelona in 2017.
With what came before, this will feel even more painful for them and their Qatari owners.
Electric at Old Trafford in the first leg, Kylian Mbappe was poor here and Neymar was again missing, watching from the stands as he recovers from injury.
United were missing many more players, with Paul Pogba suspended and nine more sidelined due to fitness problems.
Despite that, they pulled off one of their greatest European results, up there with their 3-2 win at Juventus in the 1999 semifinals, which came after they fell two goals behind early on.
Solskjaer was on the bench that night, and the Norwegian watched from the sideline here — curiously looking like a substitute with a bib on over his jacket apparently due to a color clash with PSG’s kit — as his side somehow went in front inside two minutes.
A dreadful back-pass attempt by PSG defender Thilo Kehrer fell into no-man’s land, and Lukaku pounced on the loose ball before rounding Gianluigi Buffon and scoring. Surely PSG were not about to blow it again?
They did pull themselves together to equalize in the 12th minute, with Dani Alves releasing Mbappe in the box. As the away defense slept, Mbappe’s ball across goal was turned in at the far post by Bernat, the defender scoring his third Champions League goal this season.
Now it looked as though their start to the game would prove to be nothing more than a blip.
The depleted visitors, with Eric Bailly at right-back and Fred, Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira all in midfield, were incapable of keeping the ball. However, they were gifted another goal half an hour in.
Not closed down 25 yards out, Rashford tried a shot that was powerful but straight at Buffon.
Yet the veteran Italian, still hoping to win the Champions League for the first time aged 41, spilled the ball, and Lukaku followed in to score. It was a sixth goal in three games for the Belgian.
PSG — so slick in France — were wobbling again at the business end of the Champions League.
Di Maria had a goal ruled out for offside in the 56th minute and Mbappe then managed to fall when clean through late on, with Bernat sending the loose ball against the post.
It still looked as though they would hang on, but then VAR intervened, and Rashford sent United into ecstasy.


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

Updated 18 April 2019
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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

  • Medvedev eliminates 6th seed Tsitsipas in three sets

MONTE CARLO: Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.

Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.

The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.

“It was very challenging to play in these (windy) conditions,” Djokovic said. “Taylor just flattens the ball.

“We had five, six close games in the first set, I just managed to break his resistance midway through.

“After that, things went on my side and I felt more comfortable.

“This was one of these days where you just have to hang in there and try to put an extra ball back in the court — that was enough.”

Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very, very happy, this is an important victory for me,” the second seed said after winning his 23rd consecutive set at the tournament.

“Grigor is a super talent and is very dangerous. It was a positive match for me.

“I had a good day, I can be happy with what I did on court.

“When you don’t play on clay for almost a year, every win is important for the confidence, especially as I’m coming back from injury.”

Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.

The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.

Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.

He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

World No. 1 Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarterfinal here from 13 appearances at his home event.

Djokovic turned in a steady performance with a dozen winners and unforced errors, while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.

The Russian will next line up against Djokovic after losing to him in January in the Australian Open fourth round.

Tsitsipas was caught on the back foot facing three match points as he trailed 0-40 on his serve late in the second set. After saving the first two, the Greek botched the third to seal his exit after an hour and three-quarters.

Medvedev increased his leading total of ATP season match wins to 20 as a result after he beat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many attempts.

“This was a great achievement for me,” Medvedev said. “Everything was perfect today.

“Some wind came up in the second set and I could not get used to it. But in the third, I just worked to put every ball in the court.

“I was pleased to fight back after going a break down in the third set.”

The player who stands a career-high 14th credits his rising form to a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I’ve been working hard for the past 18 months —  since before the start of 2018. I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, which I did not do before,” Medvedev said.

“I had my best season last year — hopefully this year will be better.”

The Russian reached his first quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 level after winning his second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Tsitsipas, runner-up last season to Nadal in Toronto, suffered his eighth defeat of the season against 18 wins and will try and lift his game next week on the clay of Barcelona. 

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5.