Both Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain’s wait to secure qualification for the Champions League knockout stages went on as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes.
After Juventus’ 2-0 loss to Maccabi Haifa earlier in the evening, Benfica and PSG knew that a victory would see one of them take an unassailable lead at the top of Group H with two games to spare.
Les Parisiens were awarded a penalty six minutes before half-time after Juan Bernat was taken down in the box by Antonio Silva. The decision was confirmed following a VAR check. Kylian Mbappe, who reportedly wants to leave the club, struck his spot-kick into the bottom-left corner past Benfica goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos to give his side the lead.
A second penalty of the match was awarded in the 60th minute, but this time it was for the away side as Rafa Silva was caught in the area by Marco Verratti. After a brief check on the pitchside monitor, match official Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Joao Mario buried his spot-kick straight down the middle to put his side back on level terms.
Mbappe had a volleyed effort ruled out for offside four minutes from time, but despite both sides searching for a winner late on, the spoils were shared in the French capital.
TALKING POINT – LESS THAN AVERAGE SHOWING FROM BOTH TEAMS
With qualification for the knockout stages of this competition ready and waiting for both sides to clinch tonight with a victory, you would’ve thought that there would be more intensity to the play in what was a crackling Parc des Princes atmosphere. In truth, this match was a contest that lacked the necessary quality – as demonstrated by both sides registering just seven attempts on goal each.
For PSG, this is now their third draw in succession in all competitions and Christophe Galtier’s side have seemingly been hit hard by the absence of Leo Messi, who has been missing from two of those matches with a calf injury that was sustained at the Estadio Da Luz last week.
However, it was very possible that the whole PSG team were considerably affected by the earlier revelations about Mbappe wanting to leave the club, which has also prompted murmurs as to whether both Galtier and technical director Luis Campos are evaluating their futures as well, should their star player decide to seek pastures new.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – KYLIAN MBAPPE
PSG’s star man proved to be the brightest spark in an average team performance, as he used his pace and dribbling ability to really affect the game down the left flank.
The 23-year-old could have – and maybe should have – had a brace, but his curling strike towards the top corner from inside the penalty area early into the second half was inches away from finding the net.
One might have thought the multiple reports surfacing in the French and Spanish media about Mbappe wanting out of PSG in the next transfer window may have disrupted his focus ahead of this game, but, he proved to be the main threat going forward for his side and looked dangerous.
Paris Saint-Germain: Donnarumma 6, Ramos 6, Marquinhos 6, Pereira 6, Hakiki 6, Vitinha 6, Verratti 6, Bernat 6, Sarabia 6, Neymar 7, Mbappe 7.
Subs: Soler 6, Ruiz 6, Ekitike 6, Mukiele 6.
SL Benfica: Vlachodimos 6, Bah 7, Silva 6, Otamendi 6, Grimaldo 6, Florentino 7, Fernandez 5, Mario 7, Rafa 6, Aursnes 6, Ramos 6.
Subs: Chiquinho 6, Goncalves 6, Draxler 6, Gilberto 6, Pinho 6.
38’- PENALTY TO PSG! – That is a stonewall penalty. Bernat, who advances into the box on the overlap is caught late by Silva with a kick and Michael Oliver points to the spot! After a short check, the decision stands.
39’ – GOAL! (Kylian Mbappe penalty) – The PSG talisman makes no mistake from the spot and places it nicely into the bottom left corner of the net. 1-0 to Les Parisiens.
50′ – JUST WIDE! – What a chance! Mbappe should have his second! He advances into the penalty area, before cutting the ball onto his right foot as he attempts to bend one into the top corner of the net, but it goes agonisingly wide of the far post!
60′ – BENFICA HAVE A PENALTY – A penalty check here as Michael Oliver goes to the monitor! Verratti clearly catches Rafa Silva in the area! After a short while, it is given!
61′ – GOAL! (Joao Mario penalty) – Mario steps up as cool as you like, and buries his penalty straight down the middle as Donnarumma is left with no chance. It is all square!
86′ – OFFSIDE – PSG think they win it, but the goal is ruled out! Mbappe sends a volleyed effort into the roof of the net from close range, but the flag goes up straight away for offside against the attacker! The celebrations in the stands were short lived!