Mbappe Strikes Late To Give PSG Edge Over Real Madrid
In the first leg of their heavyweight Champions League last-16 encounter on Tuesday, Kylian Mbappe scored in the fourth minute of injury time to give Paris Saint-Germain a crucial 1-0 victory over Real Madrid.
Real Madrid seemed to be heading for a point after surviving a first-half assault from PSG until Lionel Messi’s penalty was saved by Thibaut Courtois just after the hour mark at the Parc des Princes.
Mbappe sprinted into the area from the left and between two defenders in the last minute of stoppage time, scoring past Courtois for his 22nd goal of the season.
Mbappe has been linked with a transfer to Real Madrid when his contract in Paris expires at the end of the season, but his last-gasp goal gives his present team the advantage going into the rematch on March 9th at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The World Cup-winning striker from France may have drawn a lot of attention heading into this match due to concerns about his future, but there is plenty of offensive potential elsewhere.
Messi was facing Madrid for the first time since leaving Barcelona, where he set a record with a total of 26 goals in the ‘Clasico’ during his stint at the Camp Nou.
Real was also well aware of the danger posed by Angel Di Maria, who won the Champions League with Real in 2014.
Because Neymar had not played since the end of November owing to an ankle ailment, he was only judged healthy enough for a bench spot.
As he watched Mauricio Pochettino’s squad perform without him in the first half, the frail Brazilian may have pondered how he would fit back in. Even as they created a massive lead at the top of the league, PSG displayed a desire that had been missing for the most of the season in Ligue 1.
PSG’s pressure smothered their opponents, despite Madrid being content to defend deep and surrender possession, knowing that a 0-0 draw would suffice with the away goals rule eliminated this season.
Messi’s penalty attempt was saved.
That meant Karim Benzema, Madrid’s leading scorer, and the two players surrounding him, Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio, saw hardly no ball on their comeback after a three-game layoff due to injury.
PSG played some of their greatest football since the signing of Lionel Messi last August for the most of the first half. In that time, Courtois only had to make one notable stop, denying Mbappe in the 18th minute.
The visitors would have sought to recover at halftime, but Mbappe forced Courtois into a fine low to his right save fewer than five minutes after the restart.
Courtois then added insult to injury by diving to his left to save Messi’s penalty in the 62nd minute, which was given after Mbappe was felled by Dani Carvajal, whom he had tortured all evening.
The French club had failed to score when they were in lead in the first half and had now lost a golden opportunity to move ahead. Messi’s poor PSG career was summed up in one miss.
With his peroxide blonde hair, Pochettino sent on Neymar, the world’s most expensive player.
Mbappe had scored a last-minute winner for his club against Rennes in the league last weekend, and he had the last say once again, leaving the squad he may be representing next season up against it in three weeks.