Manchester United and PSG served up a wonderfully chaotic 90 minutes of Champions League football on Wednesday evening as the French champions ran out 3-1 winners at Old Trafford.
United were on top for much of the game but had Fred sent off with 21 minutes remaining and a brace from Neymar ultimately condemned the Red Devils to defeat, leaving Group H fascinatingly poised going into the final round of fixtures.
PSG took the lead after six minutes, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe combining neatly before the former tucked home at the near post.
United should have been a goal and a player down when Fred appeared to head butt Leandro Paredes. The referee went to check the monitor, initially couldn’t find the monitor and eventually opted to give the Brazilian a yellow card. The pair then continued to scrap for the rest of the first half.
Fred was treading a fine line and United fans were insistent he should have been replaced ASAP. But Ole knows best and I’m sure no harm came of it.
Not to be outdone, Scott McTominay and Neymar then enjoyed a little scrap of their own after the Brazilian forward found himself on the receiving end of a thumping sliding tackle, with a petulant argument between the pair continuing into the tunnel at half time.
United came out all guns blazing in the second half with the game there for the taking. Edinson Cavani struck the cross bar with a fabulous chip, and Anthony Martial saw two terrific opportunities go begging.
But with the Red Devils comfortably the better side, PSG then inevitably took the lead once more, Marquinhos poking home from a corner.
And just to rub salt into the wound, having not been sent off for something he did do in the first half, Fred was sent off for something he didn’t do in the second after being judged to have caught Ander Herrera with a late tackle.
This instantly begged the question as to why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had not taken Fred off at half time, with the United midfielder treading on thin ice for most of the game with Nemanja Matic sat on the bench.
United continued to push for an equaliser, before Neymar wrapped up the victory in style for PSG. The forward shimmied past a handful of United defenders on the halfway line, charged into the box and applied the finishing touches to the move that he started.
Champions League Group H is wide open after Manchester United suffered a 3-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
PSG opened the scoring after six minutes, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar combining well before the latter cooly finished at the near post.
United equalised just after the half hour mark after Marcus Rashford’s strike from the edge of the area was directed into his own goal by Danilo Pereira.
Both sides rattled the cross bar in the second half – first Edinson Cavani with a fabulous chip and then Marquinhos with a header – before Marquinhos gave the visitors the lead, prodding home from a corner.
Moments after PSG’s second goal, Fred received his marching orders after being shown a second yellow for a challenge on Ander Herrera.
Neymar put the game beyond doubt in the dying stages, finishing a move he had started inside his own half with a superb piece of skill.
Let’s get into some player ratings.
David de Gea (GK) –6/10 – Produced a fantastic low, finger tipped save to keep out Bakker in the second half. Could do little about any of the PSG goals.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB) – 7/10 – Had to contend with Mbappe in the first half and Neymar in the second, but the world class pair rarely got the better of him.
Victor Lindelof (CB) – 6/10 – Dealt well with Kean but struggled once PSG moved to two up top with Neymar and Mbappe.
Harry Maguire (CB) – 6/10 – Dealt with the threat of Kean, but was completely sold by a sublime piece of skill from Neymar in the build up to PSG’s third.
Alex Telles (LB) – 6/10 – Relatively solid defensively, got forward well in the first half and put in a couple of dangerous set piece deliveries.
Scott McTominay (DM) – 6/10 – Produced a stunning sliding tackle to dispossess Neymar on the halfway line on the stroke of half time, which led to the pair clashing.
Fred (DM) – 4/10 – Was fortunate to not be sent off after appearing to head butt Paredes, but escaped with just a yellow after the referee checked the VAR monitor. Was unfortunate to be sent off after being deemed to have caught Herrera late when he had in fact won the ball.
Bruno Fernandes (AM) – 5/10 – Linked up well with Rashford to create United’s first real opening in the first half. Drifted in and out of the game, not as influential as usual.
Marcus Rashford (RW) – 6/10 – Combined well with Fernandes on the edge of the PSG box to register United’s first attempt on target in the first half. His goal-bound effort deflected in off Danilo to draw United level.
Edinson Cavani (ST) – 7/10 – Combined superbly with Rashford in the second half in the build up to a golden second half chance for Martial, picking out the United academy product with a delightful back heel. Clattered the cross bar with a sublimely executed chip.
Anthony Martial (LW) – 6/10 – Blazed a terrific opportunity over from close range early in the second half after being teed up by Rashford.
Paul Pogba – 6/10
Donny van de Beek – 5/10
Mason Greenwood – 5/10
Odion Ighalo – N/A
Keylor Navas (GK) – 6/10 – Made a couple of comfortable saves to thwart Rashford and Martial in the first half. Could do nothing about United’s goal.
Alessandro Florenzi (RB) – 7/10 – Whipped in a terrific delivery in the early stages of the first half that Neymar was inches away from turning home, and another one five minutes before the break.
Marquinhos (CB) – 8/10 – Charged down Martial’s goal bound effort in the second half, producing a huge block to prevent United from taking the lead. Hit the crossbar with with a header in the second half before finding the net with a close range effort from a corner.
Presnel Kimpembe (CB) – 7/10 – Made a vital interception to prevent Fernandes slotting Rashford through in the second half as United were three on three.
Abdou Diallo (LB) – 6/10 – Solid defensively and got forward dangerously, particularly in the first half.
Danilo Pereira (DM) – 6/10 – Inadvertently prodded Rashford’s effort into his own goal with an outstretched leg. Dropped into the defence to make a back three as PSG switched systems in the second half. Intelligently mopped up at the back on numerous occasions.
Marco Verratti (CM) – 6/10 – Ruthlessly efficient in possession, flew into challenges out of possession.
Leandro Paredes (CM) – 5/10 – Enjoyed a real battle with Fred in the middle of the park. Probably had more coming togethers with the United midfielder than he had time on the ball. Was replaced after an hour.
Neymar (FW) – 8/10 – Opened the scoring with a well-taken near post finish having linked up cleverly with Mbappe. Started getting a bit petulant after he was on the receiving end of a strong McTominay challenge. Wrapped up the win with a close range effort, finishing the move he started with an exquisite piece of skill.
Moise Kean (ST) – 5/10 – Hardly saw any of the ball and was kept very quiet by Maguire and Lindelof. Was substituted just after the hour mark.
Kylian Mbappe (FW) – 6/10 – Combined well with Neymar in the buildup to PSG’s opener, before his deflected effort fell into the path of the Brazilian. Drifted in and out of the game. Should have put the game to bed as the clock ticked down, but flashed as effort just wide.
Olivier Giroud’s four goals helped Chelsea cruise to an impressive victory against Sevilla on Wednesday night, sealing their spot as Group E winners in the process.
Frank Lampard rang the changes from the 0-0 draw with Tottenham at the weekend, with Giroud replacing Tammy Abraham up front. The entire back four was changed, while Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic also featured from the outset.
The visitors took the lead when Giroud cut back on to his left foot and curled into the far corner after Havertz’s driving run and pass.
The Frenchman grabbed his second in the second half with a composed dink before sealing the contest with a glancing header. A late penalty gifted the World Cup winner a remarkable fourth.
Both sides had sealed qualification for the knockout stages before the game but the result means Chelsea top the group with a game to spare, with Sevilla confirmed as runners up.
Edouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – Claimed a few crosses and made a few saves. A relatively quiet night but another clean sheet for the summer signing.
Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – 7/10 – Just shows the depth Chelsea have where Reece James can be dropped and Azpilicueta drafted in. Beaten a few times in the air but decision making remains pretty sharp.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – 7/10 – Won most of his aerial duels, with his distribution fine for the most part. Wasn’t overly tested by a blunt Sevilla attack.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 8/10 – Had a header cleared off the line by Franco Vazquez. His cross field passes to Callum Hudson-Odoi were joyous to watch. A solid display.
Emerson Palmieri (LB) – 7/10 – Hardly a fan favourite for Chelsea supporters but did little wrong. Certainly did his bit in keeping Sevilla quiet.
Kai Havertz (CM) – 7/10 – A good driving run from the Germany international saw him tee up Giroud for Chelsea’s first. Often looked to dribble and had some joy throughout.
Jorginho (CM) – 7/10 – Made a few tackles and was characteristically comfortable in possession. A clean sheet will also do his confidence some good.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 7/10 – Set up one of Giroud’s goals. Has a slight habit of committing fouls after losing possession but was technically good all night.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RW) – 7/10 – Some sharp running and clever off the ball movement helped Chelsea’s attack. Carried out his defensive duties diligently. Somewhat outshone by Giroud but a good performance nonetheless.
Olivier Giroud (ST) – 10/10 – Absolutely brilliant. Gave the visitors the perfect start with a sharp finish in the eighth minute and grabbed a second with a deft chip. Completed a perfect hat trick with a nice header and got a fourth with a late penalty. Full marks.
Christian Pulisic (LW) – 6/10 – Looked sharp early on, placing a shot just wide prior to Giroud’s goal before forcing Sevilla goalie Alfonso Pastor into a save with a low drive. Still building up fitness but a decent enough showing.
Hakim Ziyech – 5/10
Mason Mount – 6/10
N’Golo Kante – 7/10 – Came on and set up Giroud for his third with a lovely cross.
Timo Werner – 6/10
Billy Gilmour – 6/10 – A long awaited comeback in a perfect situation for the young Scot.
Supporters returned to grounds – many for the first time in nearly nine months – across the EFL on Wednesday evening following the changes to Covid-19 restrictions in the UK.
Bar a small sample of pilot events in August and September, this was the first time fans were permitted to watch professional league football in England since the game was suspended due to coronavirus on 13 March.
The new tiered system in England came into effect on Wednesday, and with six fixtures from across the Football League taking place in tier two regions, up to 2,000 fans were allowed into stadiums to watch the beautiful game in the flesh once more.
So sit back, relax and prepare to get nostalgic about turnstiles, tickets and clapping.
Luton versus table-topping Norwich was one of two Championship fixtures to be played in front of supporters, with up to 1,000 fans permitted at Kenilworth for the clash.
It was the first time the pair had met in the same division for 13 years.
Wednesday was a particularly emotional one for Wycombe supporters, as a lucky 1,000 were able to see their side live in the second tier of English football for the very first time.
So much has happened to the club since fans were last at Adams Park, with the Chairboys securing a famous promotion via the playoffs at Wembley in July to book their place in the Championship for the first time in their history.
The club paid tribute to supporters on the team sheet, and manager Gareth Ainsworth completed a lap of the pitch before kick off to applaud the Wycombe faithful.
Charlton were one of a selection of clubs to welcome supporters back at the start of the season in the shortly lived pilot events, and they became the first London side to host supporters for their League One clash with MK Dons.
The Addicks could move into the automatic promotion places with a win as they attempt to bounce back to the Championship at the first time of asking.
The second League One fixture permitting the return of supporters was Accrington Stanley’s visit to struggling Shrewsbury at New Meadow.
A full 2,000 fans were allowed to attend, with face masks mandatory.
The full 2,000 fans were also permitted at the Abbey Stadium for the League two clash between high flying Cambridge and struggling Mansfield.
The early kick off in League Two was the first fixture of the evening to welcome fans back as playoff contenders Carlisle and Salford went toe to toe.
The full 2,000 supporters were permitted at Brunton Park for the fourth tier clash.
Wolves doctor Matt Perry has said striker Raul Jimenez should be ready to leave hospital early next week.
The Mexico international was rushed to hospital on Sunday after suffering a fractured skull in a clash with David Luiz during the Wanderers’ 2-1 victory at Arsenal. He was given oxygen on the pitch before being stretchered off and was later operated on.
Perry said in a statement on Wolves’ website: “Following Raul’s injury on Sunday, and the subsequent surgery, he has been recovering well in hospital.
“We are delighted with the reports from his specialist; he has made excellent progress. He should be ready to leave hospital by early next week.
“Once home, he will be reunited with his partner and young daughter who, because of Covid restrictions, he hasn’t seen since Sunday night.”
Any potential return date is still unclear, given the serious nature of the injury, and Perry reiterated Jimenez will need space and time in the short term.
He added: “As his doctor I am not going to disclose any more details of his injury, his surgery or provide daily accounts of his recovery.
“Any injury of this nature is complex and timescales are uncertain but it’s safe to say that Raul’s most immediate needs are simple: space, rest and peace.
“Raul and his family are very thankful for the privacy they have been given, and for the overwhelming support they have felt from the football family and beyond.
“Raul is extremely grateful for all the messages of goodwill he continues to receive, which will certainly help him during his recovery.”
Wolves fans have raised money through fundraising for a banner in honour of Jimenez, which will be on display in the top tier of the Steve Bull Stand at Molineux. A target of £7,500 was reached in just two hours after the fundraising page was created and has since passed £17,000.