Paris Saint Germain secured top spot in Group A of the UEFA Champions League with a brilliant comeback from two goals behind against Real Madrid on Tuesday evening.
Karim Benzema broke the deadlock between the two European giants just after the 15-minute mark with a predatory finish. Paris Saint Germain thought they had a great chance to equalise from the spot as Thibaut Courtois was sent off but VAR intervened and pulled the play back, allowing the Real stopper to remain on the pitch.
The hosts thought that had finished the game off as Benzema headed in his second but Kylian Mbappe reduced the deficit barely a minute later. That then gave them the stage to mount an unlikely comeback as Pablo Sarabia hammered in a stunning equaliser to see the game end level.
Benzema continues hot streak
It was an entertaining start in Madrid, with both sides having chances to lead. Mauro Icardi, who had been in electric form for PSG, missed two early opportunities, before Toni Kroos fired high over the crossbar.
The next move saw the hosts claim the lead however. Eden Hazard did brilliantly to find Federico Valverde on the right-flank. The Uruguayan played a brilliant one-two with Dani Carvajal and then cut the ball into the box. Isco was unfortunate to see his effort bounce off of the base of the post but Benzema reacted quickest to stroke the ball into the far corner of the net.
Navas halts his former employers
Despite Madrid’s lead, Thomas Tuchel’s men did keep battling, with Kylian Mbappe continuing to look a threat. A brilliant move saw the 20-year-old burst beyond the Real backline but he could not quite pull the ball back for Icardi.
Navas had to keep his former side at bay though as they pushed for a second. A clever corner routine saw the defence open up for Marcelo but the Costa Rican parried very impressively.
VAR rules out PSG penalty
The Parisians thought that they had a chance to equalise just before the break as Icardi was tripped by Thibaut Courtois, resulting in contentious free-kick and a red card for the Belgian stopper. However, VAR intervened and with it checking for a potential penalty, reversed both decisions for a foul on Marcelo earlier in the move.
Tuchel made a move at the break as he introduced former Barcelona man Neymar to a chorus of boos. However, it was Navas who continued to be the star of the show as Benzema got another chance from close range but was once again denied by the PSG stopper. Isco was then the next who was frustrated as he ghosted in at the near post but his low effort was parried behind.
Benzema doubles up but PSG roar back
The points were seemingly wrapped up in the closing ten minutes as Benzema doubled his night’s work. Substitute Modric put the ball onto Isco’s head, with the Spaniard nodding onto Marcelo racing down the left-flank. The left-back picked out his striker with an excellent floated cross and he scored with an powerful downward header.
That two-goal advantage did not last long though as poor communication in the Real defence saw Thomas Meunier’s cross bounce right into the path of Mbappe and he finished easily into the unguarded net.
It then got even worse for Zinedine Zidane’s men as the Bernabeu was stunned into silence. Juan Bernat’s cross was dummied by both Neymar and Mbappe, before the ball fell to Julian Draxler. The German set his sights but his shot was blocked. It then came to fellow substitute Sarabia and he hammered the ball into the top corner with a delicious half-volley.
Gareth Bale could have silenced all of his doubters in literally the final seconds of the match as he lined up a free-kick from just outside of the box. However, he hit the post as the curtain fell on yet another dramatic performance of Champions League football in Madrid.
This match did not have the feel of a dead rubber between two sides that had already qualified, it was completely the opposite. It really was a thrilling watch between two giants of European football. Initially, Real Madrid were the far superior and had the swagger of potential champions. They did however lose all of their composure in the closing stages as PSG claimed an unlikely point.
Real Madrid: Courtois (6); Marcelo (7), Ramos (6), Varane (6), Carvajal (7); Kroos (7), Casemiro (6), Valverde (7) (Modric (6), 76′); Isco (7) (Rodrygo (N/A), 82′), Hazard (8) (Bale (6), 69′), Benzema (8).
Paris Saint Germain: Navas (8); Bernat (7), Kimpembe (5), Silva (6), Meunier (6); Verratti (6), Marquinhos (6), Gueye (6) (Neymar (6), 46′); di Maria (6) (Sarabia (7), 76′), Icardi (5) (Draxler (6), 76′), Mbappe (7).
Goals: Benzema (17′, 79′), Mbappe (81′), Sarabia (83′)
Referee: Artur Dias Soares
Yellow Cards: Marcelo (68′), Meunier (88′)
Red Cards: N/A
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