There was late drama as Paris Saint-Germain rounded off their group stage campaign in the Champions League with a 2-1 win over Juventus – but it was only enough for them to qualify second in the group.
Before the match, Les Parisiens knew they had to match or better Benfica’s result against Maccabi Haifa to go to the top of Group H despite already securing qualification for the round of 16, but the Portuguese side routed Haifa to steal the group at the death.
As for the Old Lady, who had already bowed out of the Champions League, they knew a place in the Europa League knockout round play-off would be secured if they matched or bettered the Israeli side.
Juventus started off with intent, but it was PSG who took an early lead in the 12th minute. Kylian Mbappe rode out a couple of challenges to hit a low, powerful strike from outside the area past Wojciech Szczesny and into the net, with the help of the woodwork.
The Bianconeri had their equaliser shortly before half-time, as Leonardo Bonucci turned in Juan Cuadrado’s diving header across the six-yard box to score his first Champions League goal in six years.
However, PSG found their winner with 20 minutes of time remaining. Nuno Mendes, who had been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, latched onto Mbappe’s through-ball, before finishing low into the far corner.
Juventus thought they had equalised nine minutes later, but Manuel Locatelli’s tap-in on the rebound was ruled out for offside.
With news filtering through of the need to score again, PSG boss Christophe Galtier urged his men forward, but the goal they needed didn’t arrive.
TALKING POINT – PSG GET THE WIN, BUT LATE DRAMA SEES THEM LOSE OUT
PSG thought they had got the job done in Turin as they went into stoppage time at the Allianz Arena thinking they remained top of Group H, and even made some late substitutions to run down the clock.
However, two minutes into the four to be played at the end of the game, panic ensued on the Paris bench, and the camera panned to Galtier in the technical area pacing up and down the touchline as the news filtered from Haifa that Benfica had scored two late goals against the Israeli side to win 6-1 and edge out Les Parisiens by the finest of margins at the summit.
Galtier hurried his players up the pitch in an attempt to score a late third, but it was too little, too late. His side will now have to settle for the runner’s up spot, and could face the likes of Napoli, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the round of 16. They will have to wait until the draw next Monday to find out who awaits them.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – KYLIAN MBAPPE
The 23-year-old was once again superb tonight for his club, being involved in two direct goal involvements (one goal, one assist).
He proved to be a menace down the left-hand side and often roamed from his natual position upfront to pick up the ball in the spaces out wide to drive forward. Juventus centre-back Federico Gatti had a torrid time trying to defend against the Frenchman.
In total, Mbappe completed four successful dribbles and made three key passes. His goal took his tally of Champions League strikes to 40.
Juventus: Szczesny 6, Gatti 6, Bonucci 7, Sandro 6, Kostic 6, Cuadrado 7, Fagioli 6, Locatelli 7, Rabiot 7, Miretti 6, Milik 6. Subs: Barrenchea 6, Barbieri 6, Chiesa 6, Soule 6.
Paris Saint-Germain: Donnarumma 6, Bernat 6, Marquinhos 7, Ramos 6, Hakimi 6, Vitinha 6, Verratti 6, Ruiz 6, Soler 6, Mbappe 8, Messi 7. Subs: Pereira 6, Sanches 6, Mendes 7, Ekitike 6.
12’ – GOAL! (Kylian Mbappe) – What a brilliant individual goal! Mbappe picks the ball up outside the area following a pass from Messi, and manages to evade the challenge of Gatti, who attempts to pull his shirt. Mbappe then cuts inside and gets past Bonucci – who has gone to ground. He then rifles a low, powerful strike into the bottom corner from distance and Szczesny has no chance as it takes a touch off the post on its way in!
15′ – SO CLOSE! – Juventus almost respond! Locatelli tries to bend one into the far top corner from the outside edge of the penalty area, but his effort narrowly goes wide of the post!
39’ – GOAL! (Leonardo Bonucci) – It’s Bonucci! The Juventus captain puts the Old Lady back on level terms. A ball is played out wide for Cuadrado down the inside-right channel, and he manages to put it back in the six-yard box with a diving header. Despite getting a hand on the ball, Donnarumma cannot deny the Juventus man, and he has an easy tap-in!
69’ – GOAL! (Nuno Mendes) – Mendes, who has been on the pitch for a matter of minutes, latches onto a through-ball in behind by Mbappe to him down the left. He then sprints into the box and gets past Cuadrado easily, before placing a low strike into the far corner! What an introduction!
78’ – GOAL DISALLOWED! – Locatelli has the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t count! Kostic has a crack at goal from outside the area, and Donnarumma can only parry it to the path of his fellow Italian inside the area. He finishes well from close range at his near post, but the flag is up!