Man Utd 1-1 PSG: United ‘belong’ in Women’s Champions League, says boss Marc Skinner

Melvine Malard applauds the crowd after Manchester United's draw against PSG
Melvine Malard joined Manchester United on loan from French club Lyon this summer

Manchester United manager Marc Skinner says his side “belong at this level” after drawing with Paris St-Germain in their first Women’s Champions League match.

Melvine Malard came off the bench to equalise for United after Tabitha Chawinga put PSG ahead in their second qualifying-round tie at Leigh Sports Village.

United will reach the group stage of the competition with victory in Paris next Wednesday, and Skinner saw enough in his side’s first-leg performance to believe they can beat the two-time finalists.

“I believe we can do it anywhere – so I believe we can do it in Paris,” he said.

“We belong at this level, I have no doubt about that. The second half showed that to the players. I said ‘just believe in yourselves, we are a team at this level’.

“We have to earn it now. We have great shoulders to stand on from our men’s team and that breeds into all of our club. We need to take that belief into the second leg – that we’re Manchester United and we can beat anybody.

“I felt we could always exploit them and we will learn from this to find a gameplan for the second leg.”

‘In the second half we believed’

United were on the backfoot from the first minute in Leigh as PSG’s physicality and intensity took the hosts by surprise.

But Skinner’s side adapted in the second half and began to dominate – substitutes Geyse and Melvine Malard having a particularly impressive impact off the bench.

“I felt there was a little bit of trepidation in the first half, but in the second half we felt we believed,” added Skinner.

“We were adapting and evolving to defend against a new system. We had to pay respect. In the second half, when we knew how they would play, we unleashed the players to do the business.

“They were very physical. The reality is the first half is the fastest we’ve played against in terms of intensity – even more so than against Arsenal on Friday. It took our players [time] to see it and feel it. We stayed in the game.”

Brazilian forward Geyse, who won the Champions League with Barcelona last season, came on for United in the second half and created numerous chances, before on-loan Lyon forward Malard’s header made it 1-1.

They are among the summer signings with valuable Champions League experience in United’s squad, adding to previous winner Nikita Parris during her time at Lyon.

Skinner is therefore confident United can get a result in Paris and does not think it would be a shock if they did despite their opponents having reached the final twice.

“[It would not be a shock] for us. For others, it may be. I want to clarify that we go into every game thinking we can win,” said Skinner.

“If you don’t, there’s no point jumping on the plane. We need to be as physical as we were tonight. We need to match that and play our football. If we do that, I think we’ll have a very good chance.”

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