PARIS (Reuters) - Paris St Germain coach Thomas Tuchel was left completely bemused after his side lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United on Wednesday to exit the Champions League on away goals.
The French champions held what looked like an unassailable 2-0 lead from the first leg of the last 16 tie at Old Trafford but Romelu Lukaku’s early goal for United set the alarm bells ringing.
They still would have gone through despite trailing 2-1 with time running out but Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp penalty secured a third away goal for United and condemned big-spending PSG to another shattering defeat in Europe’s premier club competition.
Tuchel was asked whether his players had struggled to cope with the intense pressure of the situation.
“I can’t say yes, but I can’t say no, because we showed a very good reaction after the first goal to United,” he told reporters.
“We reacted well and played very well in the first 30 minutes with a lot of chances.
“We had opportunities for a second or third goal but we did not convert them. After that the second goal changed the whole situation because Man United had no chance to score, but they netted twice. And with another United goal we were out.
“They had three goals without attacking, without creating a chance. It’s hard, maybe impossible to analyse this.”
The defeat revived memories of PSG’s meltdown against Barcelona two years ago when they won the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie 4-0 in Paris but lost 6-1 in Spain to exit the competition.
“We should not fall into this trap of comparing with Barca to make our brains happy,” Tuchel said.
“The problem is the way we started today, but we showed excellent reaction, we were not concerned, we dominated the opponents, we had a lot of chances. At 1-1 we felt confident in the way we played. It is very hard to lose, very hard to accept.
“If you lose a game like this, it’s horrible and cruel because we did not deserve to go out after those 180 minutes.”
To make the loss even harder to swallow, the penalty Rashford scored was awarded for handball after a lengthy review by the Video Assistant Referee.
“I’m a big supporter of VAR and I stay a big supporter of it,” Tuchel said.
“From my point of view when (Diogo) Dalot took the shot, for me it was clear it was going over the bar and I was surprised it was a corner,” the German added.
“With handball it’s super difficult, there are too many points of view. You’ll always have people who say yes, and others who say no. For me the shot was not on target and to get a reward in the form of a penalty it’s a tough decision.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; writing by Ed Osmond, editing by Nick Mulvenney