By Philip O’Connor and Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian media wasted no time in popping the champagne corks for Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after he pulled off one of the most sensational Champions League victories in the club’s history to beat Paris Saint German.
After losing the home leg 2-0, the Red Devils plundered the French capital with a stoppage-time penalty by Marcus Rashford to make the score 3-3 on aggregate and go through to the last eight of the competition on away goals.
Solskjaer’s picture adorned Thursday’s front page of the Verdens Gang newspaper, accompanied by a simple headline: “The Triumph”.
In the sports section, the win was described as “The World’s Most Beautiful Robbery” in the headline on a piece by columnist Trond Johannessen.
“One wouldn’t believe that it was possible to steal a quarter-final place in the Champions League, but the combination of Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can achieve anything,” Johannessen wrote.
Still managing at Molde in Norway when he watched the draw for the last sixteen of the Champions League, Solskjaer revealed to VG that he thought United would struggle when they were drawn against the French powerhouse.
“I actually said that – I remember I said to my son Noah that it would be very difficult,” he said.
A little over two months later he was on the sideline having replaced Jose Mourinho, guiding the club to an unlikely victory.
The 46-year-old, who famously scored a late winner for Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final, is hugely popular in Norway and his every move in England is followed closely in his homeland.
“HERO TO ICON”
Aftenposten, the country’s largest newspaper by circulation, lauded his achievement with the banner headline: “The Feat In Paris – Solskjaer Has Grown From A Hero To Become An Icon”.
Reporting from Paris, Daniel Roed-Johansen wrote: “The booing from the home fans was intense, but Marcus Rashford fired home the penalty. Thus, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s great achievement became a fact.”
State broadcaster NRK featured a column on its website (www.nrk.no) by Thore Haugstad, who echoed the sentiments of many Norwegian fans in calling for Solskjaer to be rewarded with a long-term contract at Old Trafford.
“If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not done enough to get the Manchester United coaching job permanently after tonight, he will never get it. He cannot do any more,” Haugstad wrote.
Whether he gets the job for good or not, Solskjaer took some time out after the final whistle in Paris to celebrate the victory with ex-United striker Eric Cantona and his former manager, Alex Ferguson.
“He (Ferguson) is obviously happy and proud as well – that’s how we do it at Manchester United,” Solskjaer told VG.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor in Stockholm and Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)