If you were in any doubt as to how much Manchester United’s Champions League victory over Paris-St Germain meant to the club, the image of three legends celebrating in the dressing room tells you all you need to know.
Eric Cantona, Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, three men who have earned their place in the United history books, toasted a memorable night at Parc des Princes.
It was a victory that echoed of a night in Barcelona 20 years ago, when, with Ferguson at the United helm, Solskjaer scored one of the club’s most famous goals in injury time to beat Bayern Munich in the final.
Almost two decades later, Solskjaer is caretaker manager at Old Trafford and his charges rolled back the years as Marcus Rashford’s injury-time penalty capped a remarkable turnaround as United reached the quarter-finals at the expense of shell-shocked PSG.
“That’s the Champions League, it’s what it does,” said Solskjaer. “It’s this club, it’s what we do, that’s Manchester United.”
Frenchman Cantona who helped United win four league titles and two FA Cups during the 1990s, added: “I love it. I’m so happy.”
Two Romelu Lukaku goals and Rashford’s 94th-minute spot-kick meant United became the first club in the competition’s history to overturn a 2-0 or greater first-leg home deficit.
BBC Radio 5 Live football correspondent John Murray said it was “one of the great results by any English club in the Champions League”.
“This will very much go on to the list of great comebacks.”
‘So proud’ – what the players said
Ashley Young: So so proud to captain this great club tonight. What a night, we always believed!
Romelu Lukaku: Believing in yourself can be the difference in moments like this…proud of my team
Eric Bailly: Incredible win, feels great to be in the next round. Proud to be part of this family!
Victor Lindelof: Never rule out MANCHESTER UNITED
‘The real Manchester United’
Former Scotland winger Pat Nevin on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I am not a Manchester United fan but I am grinning from ear to ear at what I have seen here. I would put it as more than history, I would put it as magical.
“Not only have they done it but they have done it with a team that’s missing 10 players, world-class players, with a rookie, stand-in manager, who’s adapted and changed and played tactics that you wouldn’t have considered.
“United were a shambles for 35 minutes and they rode their luck but they grew and grew and grew into the game.
“There were some performances that were off the scale. We’ve hardly mentioned Scott McTominay but he was brilliant. His tackling, his bravery, all the way through the game. But you go through every one of those players in that second half.
“To keep that confidence and belief that they could still do it, to hold off until the last 10 minutes and say ‘we’re going to sit, we’re going to sit’, and then go for the goal, and then get it.”
‘Give him the job’
Solskjaer has now won 14 out of 17 games in all competitions, his only defeat coming against PSG at Old Trafford in the first leg.
Appointed only as caretaker in December following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, it now seems a case of when, not if, the club’s former striker will be appointed permanently.
Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “If he has not got the job on Thursday then there is something wrong. You have to give him the job.
“He changed the whole formation three or four times during the game. As a manager you have to make big decisions and he did that with taking Bailly off. For me has has shown again why he should be given the job.
“You would think McTominay had played 100 games in the Champions League and 250 for United. He sat there composed, he broke up play and showed good quality. He never looked out of place. This is why as a manager you trust your players and give them a chance.”
Thursday’s sports pages
‘The whole spirit has changed’
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “I didn’t have the confidence in these boys to do it, 10 boys out, I didn’t see this result coming with the way PSG played in the first leg.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brave with his team selection, he had three teenagers on the pitch, the character of these players after the starvation of moments like this. The confidence this will give them.
“Ole has brought belief back to this team. People were doubting Lukaku – he’s one of many who has been given a new lease of life.
“I don’t think it’s a penalty but turning your back, as a defender, you get punished for things like that.”
Former Manchester United striker Michael Owen said on BT Sport: “When this draw was made I gave Manchester United no chance whatsoever. They were playing awful football under Jose Mourinho, they had no chance.
“What a difference, the whole spirit has changed – it’s quite frightening how they’ve gone through tonight.
“The players look totally different players. I was bowled over by the reaction of Rashford, still cool and calm [in his interview]. He’s someone who finds this normal, natural, and even afterwards he’s not getting carried away. He’s here to stay as a top-class player.
“There’s no fun in that as a penalty talker – it’s just relief. When that hits the net, it’s a case of thank everything! In that position you just go numb. Others may feel differently but you just do it to be a leader.”
What you said on #bbcfootball
Peter Shields: I’m a Newcastle United supporter but it has to be said, English football is far more exciting when Man United are at the top of their game – they have to give Ole the job now, surely – exceptional result – well done !
Altaf Shaikh: What a game. What a result. Unbelievable! Give ole the job, get those injured players fit.
Abhipsit: Dear Ed Woodward- Give Ole the ‘JOB’… After Fergie, this is surely the best night for us United fans?
Greg Hunt: It’s 0630 here in Hong Kong. I’m never gonna sleep now.
Loser92: I think all neutrals must agree that football was the winner in the Parcs des Princes tonight.