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PSG perplexed as Champions League run ends in familiar failure

By Reuters - Mar 07,2019 - Last updated at Mar 07,2019

Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood in action against Paris St Germain’s Marco Verratti during their Champions League — Round of 16 Second Leg match in Paris on Wednesday (Reuters photo by John Sibley)

Paris St Germain’s Champions League exit has left the club perplexed and searching for answers but there will be no knee-jerk reaction to fire coach Thomas Tuchel after their latest European failure, club President Nasser Al Khelaifi said.

The French champions blew a 2-0 advantage in their last-16 second leg match against Manchester United in Paris on Wednesday, crashing out on away goals after being beaten 3-1 at the Parc des Princes.

PSG have spent a fortune on assembling a team capable of winning Europe’s elite club competition, but have failed to get past the quarter-final stages since being taken over by big-spending Qatar Sports Investments in 2011.

“I’m very disappointed with the result and the game. I don’t understand how we lost,” Khelaifi said. “We won 2-0 there. Here in Paris we lost 3-1. We gave them everything to win. It was easy for them. I don’t understand.”

PSG appointed Tuchel in May in the hope the uncompromising German would further their quest for European glory, and Khelaifi said the club would not take any decisions over his future in the heat of the moment.

“I trust the coach... but it’s not because we lose a match that we have to act now,” the president was quoted as saying by French sports newspaper L’Equipe.

“We must make decisions with a cool head but this is not the moment. We want to calm down.”

The defeat sparked emotions ranging from anger to despair from members of Tuchel’s squad.

Brazil international Neymar, who was injured for both legs, lashed out at the video assistant referees system after United won a late penalty.

His compatriots, club captain Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, offered a more measured perspective, stressing the need for the team to reflect on the defeat.

“We have to go away and think, like we do every year,” Marquinhos said. “We have to think about what’s working and not working so that we can come back stronger.”

United’s hierarchy should confirm interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as permanent manager this month instead of waiting until the end of the season, former club captain Gary Neville has said.

Solskjaer has revitalised United since taking over from Jose Mourinho in December, with the team’s victory at PSG offering the most compelling evidence, yet, that he is the best man for the job.

Neville made his comments before kickoff, citing former United striker Solskjaer’s stellar record as interim boss, which now stands at 14 victories from 17 games in all competitions.

“The form guide says it all,” the former defender told Norwegian broadcaster Viasport. “I’ll be surprised if Solskjaer is not awarded the job during the international break [in March].

Solskjaer has also helped United salvage their season on the domestic front.

The team are now fourth in the Premier League and playing the sort of thrilling attacking football that was last seen at Old Trafford when Alex Ferguson was in charge.

“The performances are very good,” Neville said. “The fans are loving it. It’s been a sensational three months and I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will get given the job.

“He’ll probably be the King of Norway, the President of Norway, the Prime Minister of Norway as well!”

In the other match of the night, Porto converted a penalty awarded following a VAR review three minutes from the end of extra time to beat AS Roma 3-1 and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

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