Belief can take United all the way: Solskjaer

Top: A bad pass by defender Thilo Kehrer letting in Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who rounded Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to score after only 111 seconds. Above: Buffon letting Marcus Rashford's shot slip out of his han
United striker Rashford (front) celebrating with debutant Mason Greenwood after scoring his late penalty which sent the Red Devils through to the Champions League quarter-finals on the away-goals rule.PHOTO: EPA–EFE
Top: A bad pass by defender Thilo Kehrer letting in Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who rounded Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to score after only 111 seconds. Above: Buffon letting Marcus Rashford's shot slip out of his han
A bad pass by defender Thilo Kehrer letting in Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who rounded Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to score after only 111 seconds.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Top: A bad pass by defender Thilo Kehrer letting in Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who rounded Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to score after only 111 seconds. Above: Buffon letting Marcus Rashford's shot slip out of his han
Buffon letting Marcus Rashford's shot slip out of his hands, allowing Lukaku to pounce for his second goal of the night. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Interim boss hails team's quality in historic win over PSG; players back him to get job

PARIS • This was the Manchester United of old, the United of Alex Ferguson, fighting till the final whistle and never giving up.

This was the United of their glory days, playing with steel, with youth, and winning in Fergie time.

Never before had a 2-0 home first-leg deficit been overturned in the Champions League, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men "always believed".

Against all odds, against all possession counts - Paris Saint-Germain had 82 per cent of the ball - United had dared to dream and, despite all their absences, had too much heart for the French champions on Wednesday night.

Romelu Lukaku twice capitalised on critical errors by PSG's backline before "fearless" Marcus Rashford converted his added-time penalty, his first for the club, as the Red Devils triumphed on away goals after a 3-1 victory in the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Afterwards, the Norwegian revealed he always felt the comeback was on the cards, before admitting it was "special", saying: "Football - that's what it gives you. We set out the plan and it wasn't about the ball.

"The plan was to get the first goal, be in the game with five or 10 minutes to go, and we were. The dressing room was unbelievable, just to see the club together with the owners, ex-managers, ex-players."

While United were fortunate at times, with Thomas Meunier and Juan Bernat - who got PSG's goal on the night - both striking the woodwork, the rash of injuries and Paul Pogba's suspension meant that Solskjaer's "fresh team" had "loads of energy" to soak up the pressure at the Parc des Princes.

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    Marcus Rashford's penalty was the first he has ever taken for Manchester United in a competitive match.

He added: "It's this club. It's what we do, that's Man United, that's the Champions League. It's a typical Manchester United night. We had a game plan and the belief in the boys was what we hoped for.

"Everyone shares a huge pride. The players were focused, they listened to all the instructions and they knew that we had to defend well. There was a lot of quality."

And, having made the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014, Solskjaer sees no reason why United cannot "go all the way" and claim their fourth European Cup after a record-extending nine consecutive away wins.

The caretaker manager said: "Of course we fancy ourselves, but we just have to wait for the draw (next Friday) and then take the game as it comes."

After Rashford's winner, which sparked scenes of delirium among the away fans, including Ferguson, Pogba and former United greats Patrice Evra and Eric Cantona, as well as on social media, United's players renewed calls for Solskjaer to be given the job full time.

Lukaku posed a question to reporters, asking, "What else does he have to do?", while Luke Shaw said: "I don't think I need to say much after all these results, it looks certain. We all love Ole and we love the job he's done so far... We've got so much more to look forward to."

Fellow full-back Ashley Young agreed, saying: "If you look from the outside, you'd say, 'Why not?'. He's been fantastic since he's come in, a breath of fresh air."

While United marched on, PSG were left to rue another Groundhog Day exit in Europe, with the club again failing to progress beyond the last eight since the Qatari takeover in 2011 despite the hundreds of millions spent in a bid to win their maiden European Cup.

However, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was adamant there would be no knee-jerk reaction to fire manager Thomas Tuchel.

Insisting the club would "make decisions with a cool head", he told French daily L'Equipe: "I trust the coach... it's not because we lose a match that we have to act now... this is not the moment."

Neymar was in no mood to offer a measured perspective of the defeat. Lashing out at the video assistant referee system on Instagram after Rashford's spot kick, the Brazil forward, who was injured for both legs, called the decision a "disgrace".

In the other tie, Porto's 3-1 home win over Roma sent them through to the next round 4-3 on aggregate.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2019, with the headline 'Belief can take United all the way: Solskjaer'. Print Edition | Subscribe