Man Utd vs Paris SG: Melvine Malard and Geyse brilliance hands United fighting chance for second leg

Melvine Malard equalises against Paris Saint-Germain. Cr. Getty ImagesMelvine Malard equalises against Paris Saint-Germain. Cr. Getty Images
Melvine Malard equalises against Paris Saint-Germain. Cr. Getty Images | Getty Images
Manchester United secured a 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the UEFA Women's Champions League qualifiers at Leigh Sports Village.

In the lead up to tonight's clash with Paris Saint-Germain, Marc Skinner's accusation that English sides faced a tougher route to the group stages of the UEFA Women's Champions League had been met with a degree of scorn.

However, as Manchester United took to the field for their debut game in the competition, the abundance of talent throughout Paris Saint-Germain's ranks proved Skinner maybe had a point - and he knew it would demand a near perfect performance in order for United to gain an advantage over the French giants.

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His challenge? To mastermind a 90 minute first leg performance that would see them head to France next week with a real shot at finally being able to take their seat at the table of Europe's finest in the UEFA Champions League group stages.

The size of the task facing Man Utd

In front of a vocal LSV crowd the head coach had cited was "the best in the league", United were vehemently backed in numbers by their always vocal home crowd that had always felt European football destined to arrive.

But if the enormity of United's task wasn't clear enough, Millie Turner being forced to clear off the line from Tabitha Chawinga in the opening minute of the game would spell it out clearly. Mary Earps twice having to come to United's rescue in the first 20 minutes added further evidence.

The first half saw Constance Picaud virtually a spectator with the likes of Ella Toone cutting a frustrated figure as the away side launched an onslaught on their goal. The speed of Sandy Baltimore cutting through their defence like a knife through butter on far too many occasions.

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The introduction of Geyse at the break temporarily sparked United into life with the Brazilian the first to ask questions of PSG, though they would eventually find a deserved opener when Chawinga once again found herself in space as a sense of inevitably came over Leigh Sports Village.

Skinner had previously touched on how his summer recruitment had allowed him to bring in more players that can make the difference in the big moments and, just like she did in Friday's game against Arsenal, Melvine Malard proved do exactly that when she headed home an unlikely equaliser just four minutes after entering the fray.

What it means ahead of next week's second leg in Paris

While the task ahead of his Manchester United side is perhaps even bigger than it was prior to tonight's game, United's grit and ability to still grab a result despite a torrent of Paris Saint-Germain attacks should hand them some confidence ahead of next's week second leg.

Skinner didn't quite manage to mastermind the 90 minutes his team required, but there's now plenty evidence that United have the game changers within their ranks to head to Paris with the confidence that they can capitalise on big moments. Crucially, they've found something they did not possess previously - a desire to keep themselves in games when they would have previously faltered.

Roll on next week.

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