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PSG stun Man United to take control of UCL tie (video)

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  • Kimpembe scores opener on volley off a corner
  • Mbappe sprints past Man United CBs for goal
  • Pogba sent off late for second yellow card

Murphy’s Law was in effect for Manchester United, as about everything that could go wrong for the hosts, did.

Paris Saint-Germain came into Old Trafford and left with a 2-0 win over Manchester United, with goals from Presnel Kimpembe and star forward Kylian Mbappe. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba was sent off shortly before the end of the match for a second yellow card offense, and both Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial had to leave the match with injuries. It’s the first loss since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as Man United manager, and gives Thomas Tuchel a huge boost heading into the second leg on March 6.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

All the attention pre-match was on how PSG was missing Neymar and Edinson Cavani from the team’s vaunted attack. However, that didn’t give enough credit to PSG’s centerbacks and central midfielders, who controlled the match and kept Man United out of the middle for most of the evening. Thiago Silva and Kimpembe were immense, Marquinhos was the first line of defense in midfield while Marco Verratti set the tempo and rhythm with the team in possession.

With the game deadlocked at 0-0 and Man United lacking its more recent spark and sharpness, it appeared the first team to make a mistake would pay for it on the scoreboard. As it turned out, Man United was the first to blink. In the 53rd minute, Nemanja Matic lost Kimpembe in the box and a terrific corner to the far post was volleyed home by the French centerback, putting PSG in the lead.

Seven minutes later, Kylian Mbappe, who nearly scored in the first half, finished off a quick attacking move that caught Man United’s defense out too high up the field, beating them for speed as Mbappe scored. It was a dream evening for Angel Di Maria, who got the assist on both goals. Di Maria of course spent one season at Manchester United. However, he failed to settle and after the 2014-2015 season, he was unceremoniously offloaded to PSG.

In the game’s final minutes, with frustrations growing for Man United, Pogba got tangled up with Dani Alves in a tackle for a loose ball. It earned Pogba his second yellow card from referee Daniele Orsato, meaning Pogba will miss Man United’s crucial second-leg match on March 6, putting his side truly behind the eight ball next month.

Champions League Preview: Can Man United overcome injury-hit PSG?

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It would have been nearly impossible to imagine this scenario two months ago, with Manchester United looking like the favorite heading into an UEFA Champions League matchup against Paris Saint-Germain.

And yet, that’s where we are. Since Man United and PSG were drawn together on December 17, Jose Mourinho was fired, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has helped the Red Devils play free and re-discover their talent. At the same time, Neymar hurt his foot again, Edinson Cavani is out with a hip injury, the team’s ownership won’t let Adrien Rabiot play due to a contract spat, the PSG have so many midfield injuries they’ve had to resort to starting Dani Alves in the middle.

[ MORE: UCL: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It’s been nearly 60 days that has turned this tie on its head, and it’s leading into a first leg that is in Manchester United’s favor.

“It’s a fantastic game to look forward to and the Champions League is a fantastic tournament so it is a test for our whole team,” Solskjaer said at the pre-match press conference. “We’ve given ourselves the best possible opportunity because of the way we’ve come into this game. We’re confident and we’re looking like a team. If there was ever a time to go into big games, it’s now.”

Solskjaer later said that PSG not having Neymar and Cavani for this match made them more, “unpredictable,” but what’s truly unpredictable is Man United’s form the last two months. The Red Devils continue to win at will under Solskjaer, 10 out of their last 11, and though this is one of the hardest tests they face, the confidence levels are high.

One interesting little factor that will be new for Man United is the addition of the video assistant referee, which is being added to the Champions League from this round on. Not used in the Premier League just yet, only the players who experienced it at the World Cup will understand its impact on a game, if used.

Elsewhere, AS Roma, last year’s semifinalists, will be hosting FC Porto in a battle of two teams who have struggled in the last few weeks. Roma has just one win in its last four matches, while Porto has drawn two straight matches in the weaker Portuguese league.

Roma could be without goalkeeper Robin Olsen and midfielders Diego Perotti and Cengiz Under, while Porto’s Mexican international, Jose “Tecatito” Corona misses out due to suspension.

Cavani officially ruled out of first leg v. Man United

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Manchester United’s hopes of taking hold of their UEFA Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain became a little stronger on Monday afternoon.

PSG manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed at a pre-match press conference ahead of his side’s match in Manchester that Edinson Cavani will miss the first leg with a hip injury. That leaves Tuchel and PSG without two key attachers, as Cavani joins Neymar on the sidelines.

[READ: UEFA Champions League Last 16 Predictions]

Taking Cavani’s place up top will be the French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, who of course is still a star and will cause a lot of problems for Manchester United’s defense. Mbappe has 18 goals in 17 Ligue 1 matches, as well as three Champions League finishes. However, just one of Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar is better than having to handle all three.

Cavani has 22 goals in all competitions this season, including a pair in the Champions League and 17 in 16 matches in Ligue 1, making this a big blow to Tuchel’s hopes on the road.

Manchester United enters the match with wins in 10 of its last 11 matches, which has vaulted the Red Devils back into the top four of the Premier League. With players getting fit and the team in great form, suddenly Man United is the in-form team and the one that seems more likely to win this tie than when the draw was announced.

Mbappe donates $35K to fund search for missing pilot Ibbotson

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Kylian Mbappe has donated about $35,000 to a fund set up by the family of missing pilot Dave Ibbotson, who was lost at sea while flying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala from Wales to France.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, 20, sent the funds under the name Elie Lottin. He also donated $1,300 to the search to find Sala, and his full name is Kylian Mbappe Lottin.

[ MORE: Tributes to Sala ]

Sala’s body was recovered and identified only after a second search was funded, and Ibbotson’s family fears they may never recover the body of the pilot without significant financial help.

“We cannot bear the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest.”

Look past Mbappe’s massive bank account here; The 20-year-old has shown a grace and conscience unseen from many a person, let alone athlete, previously donating a half-million dollars in World Cup winnings to an organization that sets up sporting events for kids with disabilities.

Broadcaster and former Leicester star Gary Lineker also donated $1,300 to the search for Ibbotson.

The page’s fundraising goal is about $388,000. It has currently has raised about $156,000, and Mbappe’s donation will help spread the word for sure. The page is here.

Neymar-less PSG needs extra time to beat third-tier side (video)

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Paris Saint-Germain, like a lot of good teams, seems to be unbeatable for long stretches before hitting vulnerable patches.

Most of those patches, though, don’t involve losing to a team two leagues beneath you.

[ MORE: Man City favored by oddsmakers ]

PSG needed extra time to get past FC Villefranche-Beaujolais in the Championnat National, France’s third-tier, posting a 3-0 win Wednesday in the Coupe de France Round of 16 at the Stade Armand Chouffet.

Julian Draxler broke Villefranche’s resolve with a 102nd minute goal, with Moussa Diaby and Edinson Cavani adding markers before the final whistle.

Villefranche did not record a shot on target and was out-attempted 23-6, while Cavani and Kylian Mbappe started the match on the bench.

PSG is also without Neymar for the next two months and lost its unbeaten Ligue 1 mark at the weekend with a 2-1 loss at Lyon. It has a 10-point lead on second-place Lille and two matches-in-hand.