The UEFA Champions League 2020-21 season was off to the mark on Tuesday in its old format after it was tweaked a bit in the business end of the competition last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Group H match, Marcus Rashford produced another late strike to sink Paris Saint-Germain as Manchester United beat last season’s runners-up 2-1 at the Parc des Princes in their Champions League group-stage opener.
The England striker, whose last-gasp penalty gave United a stunning victory over PSG here in the last 16 in 2019, smashed home in the 87th minute as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side claimed a well-deserved three points in their group.
United had taken a first-half lead behind closed doors in Paris courtesy of a retaken Bruno Fernandes penalty after their captain for the match had initially missed.
But it looked as though PSG would escape with a draw despite a poor performance when Anthony Martial headed a Neymar corner into his own net 10 minutes after the restart.
In another match, summer’s biggest shoppers Chelsea played a dull draw against Spanish club Sevilla. But, with the match ending at 0-0 at the Stamford Bridge, Chelsea heaved a sigh of relief after getting a clean sheet against the Europe League champions.
Frank Lampard admitted he was happy to take a point and a clean sheet from Chelsea’s goalless Champions League opener against Sevilla after so much criticism of his side’s defensive capabilities.
Edouard Mendy returned from injury to replace the error-strewn Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal, but the Senegal international was rarely troubled in an uninspiring match far from the chaos that has characterised the early weeks of the Premier League season.
Meanwhile, Barcelona exorcised some of their Champions League demons by thrashing Hungarian minnows Ferencvaros 5-1 on Tuesday, in their first European game since last season’s humiliation by Bayern Munich. Lionel Messi won and then scored a penalty before the 17-year-old Ansu Fati contributed to two brilliant goals, volleying in one for himself and then setting up another for Philippe Coutinho.
Barca’s defensive frailties were never far away at Camp Nou and Gerard Pique was sent off before the hour for preventing Tokmac Nguen from finishing in the penalty area characterised.
With AFP inputs (accessed via PTI)