MANCHESTER: Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side were shown how much they still have to improve after being swept aside by an injury-hit Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.
Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe struck in a seven-minute spell just before the hour mark as PSG displayed their credentials to finally become champions of Europe for the first time, especially once they get the world's most expensive player Neymar and Edinson Cavani back from injury.
After a run of 10 wins and one draw in 11 games since Solskjaer replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho in December, a first defeat for the Norwegian is a reality check for United's revival and they have a mountain to climb when the sides meet again for the second leg on March 6.
The English giants will also have to cope without Paul Pogba in three weeks' time as he was sent off a minute from time to round off a terrible night for the hosts.
"Today we weren't at the level, this is a level up from what we have played against. We have had a great run, we came into this game in a great frame of mind, great form, but it's a big step up," said Solskjaer.
For all the positivity of United's return to form in the past two months, they remain 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and Liverpool and the big rebuilding job required to make the three-time European champions contenders again for this competition was laid bare.
"We've been taking about top four (of the Premier League). Top four is one thing but we want to be at the top," added Solskjaer.
"Manchester United should be at the top and this is a top team we've played against. The players are disappointed but I also think they know we need to step up our level to get to the level we want to get to."
Di Maria with point to prove on return to Old Trafford with PSG
PSG showed they still retain plenty of world class talent despite their big name absentees as United struggled to contain the slick passing of Thomas Tuchel's men in midfield and the pace of Mbappe in attack.
Angel di Maria was roundly booed by the home support on his return to Old Trafford after an unhappy one-season spell with United after signing for a then club record £60 million in 2014.
But the Argentine silenced his detractors by setting up both goals and also mocked the throwing of a beer bottle at him by pretending to drink from it.
"I think the guy is very competitive, like all South American guys. If you tease him it does not make him weaker," said Tuchel.
For all PSG's injury problems, a double blow also rocked United in the seconds before half-time and at the break as Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial limped off to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata.
The home side never recovered their composure as PSG produced a stunning second-half display to all but book their place in the last eight despite David de Gea's best efforts in the United goal.
Kimpembe was left completely unmarked to side-foot home Di Maria's corner from point-blank range on 53 minutes.
A brilliant team goal then doubled United's trouble soon after when Mbappe was again too quick for Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly to meet Di Maria's low cross.
"The first goal is always going to be important and the way we concede it is disappointing," added Solskjaer.
"The second goal was quality by them. The ground he (Mbappe) makes up that boy to get in the box, to all the strikers that want to be poachers that's how to get in the box."
Thereafter only De Gea stood in the visitors' way as he stayed big to block Mbappe's attempted chip as he bore down on goal again before Juan Bernat's rising drive was then diverted wide.
And any hope of a United comeback in Paris suffered another huge blow when Pogba was dismissed late on for catching Dani Alves with a raised boot.
Zaniolo bags brace as Roma claim first-leg win over Porto
Teenage sensation Nicolo Zaniolo bagged a brace as Roma beat Porto 2-1 in their Champions League last 16, first-leg clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old got his first Champions League goal in the 70th minute in Rome, adding a second six minutes later to inflict a first defeat on Porto in this year's top-tier European competition.
But Adrian Lopez pulled a vital goal back for the Portuguese club after 79 minutes to ensure they remain in the hunt going into their home leg on May 6.
PSG win, but Cavani causes new injury headache before Man Utd clash
"It's an incredible night, I'm speechless and never would have expected such a thing," Zaniolo told Sky Sport Italia.
"But we've got the second leg coming up, we shouldn't have conceded the goal."
The night belonged to the youngster from Tuscany who has become a fan favourite since arriving from Inter Milan, where he never played a top-flight game, in exchange for Radja Nainggolan last summer.
On Tuesday, he was given an ovation by an ecstatic home crowd who see him as the heir to club legend Francesco Totti.
The match sparked into life midway through the second half as Zaniolo netted with a precise finish after Edin Dzeko's lay-off.
He soon had his second when Dzeko went on the counter-attack, his shot bouncing off the post with Zaniolo on hand to tap in the rebound.
"Celebrating under the 'curva' is an extraordinary feeling," said Zaniolo. "I can't describe it. I hope to score many more."
"Zaniolo is not a surprise any more," said Roma captain Daniele De Rossi.
"His physical strength is incredible for a guy of his age and he combines it with great technique. He is already a great player, but he will become a great champion."
Eusebio Di Francesco's Roma, last year's semi-finalists, had fallen to the Portuguese club in both their previous meetings, most recently the 2016 play-off round in qualifying.
Before Zaniolo's heroics, the match had been a lacklustre affair between two sides who had both eased through the group stage.
There had been tensions however between Porto coach Sergio Conceicao, a former Lazio player, and fans from their arch-rivals Roma.
The hosts had the best of the first half with veteran Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas denying Aleksandar Kolarov and Lorenzo Pellegrini off the rebound.
Dzeko looked destined to break the deadlock on 38 minutes when he beat the Porto defence only to blast a shot against the post.
Roma stepped up the pressure after the break, with Zaniolo setting up Bryan Cristante who wove his way through, again forcing a Casillas save.
A Danilo Pereira header flew wide, with Casillas on hand to parry a low Pellegrini effort, before Zaniolo broke through with his double to become the youngest Italian to score in the Champions League.
Lopez pulled a goal back for Porto three minutes later as the Roma defence were caught out by Tiquinho Soares' miscued volley, before Hector Herrera curled wide and Aleksandar Kolarov missed a chance for a third for the hosts.
Roma held on for their first success over Porto, who have won the competition twice, most recently in 2004 under Jose Mourinho.
"We cannot be calm with a 2-1 victory but I think now we can say the chances of qualification are 51-49 for us," said De Rossi.
"It's a pity only to concede that unlucky goal because we had been focused for the entire game otherwise."