Manchester United’s hopes of a first appearance in the group stage of the Women’s Champions League were ended by defeat to Paris St-Germain in the second round of qualifying.
Marc Skinner’s side came into the second leg in the French capital optimistic of getting past the two-time finalists after having come back to draw 1-1 in last week’s first leg at Leigh Sports Village.
But, despite a decent display, they were undone by a superior PSG side containing a truly ruthless finisher in Lieke Martens.
The Netherlands forward put the hosts ahead on the night, and in the tie, in the first half with a fierce strike after following up Tabitha Chawinga’s low shot.
She then restored the advantage with another neat finish past Mary Earps just a minute after Lisa Naalsund had equalised for United from close range.
Martens’ second goal – and the timing of it in particular – proved a hammer blow to the visitors, who conceded again soon after to a sublime chipped finish from a tight angle from Sandy Baltimore.
Leah Galton thought she had pulled one back with a looping header, but it was ruled out for a push in the back of PSG defender Clare Hunt and Ella Toone struck the woodwork late on with an acrobatic effort.
The draw for the group stage takes place on Friday, with last season’s Women’s Super League winners Chelsea England’s sole representative.
United’s progress checked in Paris
Before Wednesday’s second leg, Manchester United manager Skinner challenged his team to create “a magical moment” in Paris.
Making it to the group stage of the Champions League would have served to underline an upward trajectory since the club reformed in 2018 that has seen United regularly finish in the top four of WSL following promotion from the Women’s Championship, capped off by last season’s second place.
However, despite pushing a strong PSG side – who also finished second in their league last season – all the way over the two legs of this tie they were ultimately found wanting at both ends of the pitch.
As they have in every game this season so far, they fell behind at the Parc des Princes, with PSG exploiting some lax defending. And despite hitting back early in the second half, a further lapse at the back to allow PSG to regain the advantage at a crucial moment undid them.
At the other end, Skinner’s side were able to repeatedly get into promising areas to hurt the home side, but failed to do so outside of Naalsund’s goal.
There will be some gripes at the disallowing of Galton’s goal, with her push on Hunt far from severe, but they had plenty of further chances to take the tie all the way.
Brazilian forward Geyse was lively throughout but at 1-0 she set up Toone for a good chance that the England forward pulled wide and then at 3-1 missed a great opportunity herself by dawdling in possession after breaking through, allowing the home defence to recover.
PSG march on to a fifth successive Champions League group stage, while United are left to focus on domestic matters, beginning with a trip to Everton in the WSL on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain Féminines
- 28Le Guilly
- 5de Almeida
- 21BaltimoreSubstituted forAngélica Kliemaschewsk de Araújoat 90+5′minutes
- 11MartensSubstituted forBachmannat 73′minutes
- 22ChawingaSubstituted forKatotoat 86′minutes
- 27Angélica Kliemaschewsk de Araújo
- 33Elimbi Gilbert
Man Utd Women
- 14RiviereSubstituted forWilliamsat 82′minutes
- 4Le Tissier
- 16NaalsundSubstituted forMiyazawaat 65′minutes
- 9MalardSubstituted forGarcíaat 65′minutes
- 23da Silva Ferreira