Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 (4-2) Manchester United: Lieke Martens bags brace as United crash out of Europe

Held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Leigh Sports Village, Marc Skinner’s Manchester United travelled to Paris Saint-Germain’s Parc des Princes on Wednesday – with the winner progressing to the group stages of the 2023/24 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

PSG: Kiedrzynek; Karchaoui, Hunt, de Almeida, le Guilly; Geyoro, Groenen, Albert; Chawinga, Martens, Baltimore

MUN: Earps; Blundell, Turner, Le Tissier, Riviere; Zelem, Toone, Naalsund; Galton, Geyse, Malard

Keen to utilise their home advantage from the very start of a chilly evening in the French capital, Paris Saint-Germain sought to apply intense pressure – with Millie Turner called upon several times to clear Jade le Guilly’s cross and Sakina Karchaoui’s ball from deep.

Manchester United looked to pose a threat too though, with Geyse being deployed as the focal point of their attack. Her first run forwards was well dealt with by Élisa de Almeida, before she hammered a strike over the crossbar following a positive run of play.

But the hosts had been the stronger side, and while Tabitha Chawinga had seen her effort hoofed away from danger by Maya Le Tissier, the winger would prove to play an influential role as Paris Saint-Germain took the lead. Beating Jayde Riviere on the left flank, her initial effort was denied by Mary Earps – but Lieke Martens was on scene to slam home the opener after 17 minutes.

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Yet as the half-time interval drew nearer, chances became more frequent for the Red Devils – although Geyse would be left wishing she took the shot on herself as her pass to Ella Toone resulted in the midfielder planting her effort wide of the post.

The Brazilian forward would find herself involved in the equaliser merely minutes into the second half, driving on the right flank before whipping a cross into the centre of the penalty area. Despite a largely unimpressive first half, Lisa Naalsund arrived to smash an effort into the roof of the net to restore parity in Paris.

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But the scoreline would soon flip in the hosts’ favour once more, with Martens completing her brace less than sixty seconds after United drew level. Once more, Chawinga’s pace proved to be dangerous on the flanks as she dashed past the defences before drilling pass into the area.

With United’s attack evidently inspired by their bright start to the second half, Hannah Blundell attempted to restore parity once more – though the left-back was only able to force a fine save from Katarzyna Kiedrzynek. The Polish shotstopper would find herself with much more to do throughout the second period, as she was soon called upon once again to deny Geyse’s curling strike.

Yet this Manchester United pressure would come to nothing, with Sandy Baltimore beating Blundell on the right flank before dashing towards the byline. In perhaps the most ludicrous of finishes, the winger propelled an outrageous chip over Earps, skimming the underside of the crossbar as she added to the Parisian advantage.

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Manchester United thought that they had halved the deficit with little over 25 minutes remaining at the Parc des Princes, as Galton flicked a tidy headed effort into the back of the net after latching onto a stunning ball from deep. Yet the travelling fans’ elation would be cut short once again, with the goal disallowed for an apparent foul inside the penalty area.

Yet the Red Devils would understandably feel aggrieved by a number of further dismal refereeing decisions, with the Macedonian officials falling on the wrong side of a number of calls – including an offside call against Lucía García when she was blatantly kept onside by de Almeida.

With Manchester United’s elimination from the UEFA Women’s Champions League now confirmed, Emma Hayes’ Chelsea will be the sole WSL representatives on the continental scene this season. Arsenal were eliminated by Paris FC in the first qualifying round.