The most anticipated football tournament of the year returned on Tuesday night. And the opening fixture for the knockout rounds featured a clash of giants in the form of PSG taking on Real Madrid.
An all-star clash like this would have been a mouth-watering prospect any year, but this year was different. With the inclusion of Lionel Messi in PSG, this fixture got a new sense of rivalry.
Messi, having played for almost all his life at Barcelona, was seen as the arch-nemesis of Madrid. His presence in the PSG team made fans excited to see him return against his old rivals.
Also, with all the rumors floating around the footballing world, everyone wanted to see Mbappe play against Madrid. His gestures perhaps answered all the rumors.
The game started off with a kickoff from the Spanish giants. In the early moments of the match, they tried to play possession play. Hoping to find enough space to attack.
PSG dominated the game
That didn’t happen, though. PSG kept a tight defense throughout the game and played most of the game in Madrid’s half.
Unlike their usual style of free-flowing football, Real Madrid was forced to defend. Pundits would say that they too were keeping things tight at the back, waiting for a counter-attacking opportunity. But that was not visible from their game. And the stats suggest the same.
The scores were level at the end of the first half, yet one could tell PSG was running the game. They had more possession, completed more passes, and hit most shots on target as well.
The second half was no different. PSG kept pushing the ante, while Real Madrid kept defending until the pressure paid its dividend in the 60th minute.
Action in the final quarter of the game
The veteran defender Carvajal crumbled under pressure and gave away a penalty at the hour mark.
After a brief discussion, Lionel Messi over the ball to take the spot-kick. However, it was not his day as he tried a low shot to Courtois’ left, and the Belgian stopped it.
The first clear chance that PSG had had in the whole of the watch was faltered just like that.
Somehow the Paris players decided to put the missed chances behind them. They regrouped in the 73rd minute, as their star player Neymar Jr returned on the field after a long injury break.
His involvement tilted the game further in PSG’s favor. Still, they couldn’t find the back of the net. In the dying minutes, with 4 minutes added for the injury time, everyone thought that was it.
The clash of titans was not getting decided at the Parc des Princes. Mbappe, although, had other ideas.
A great linkup play between Messi, Neymar, and in the end, Mbappe saw a sharp chance opening from the right. And the French forward was too good to miss out on it.
Kylian Mbappe scored the first and only goal of the match to seal it for PSG as Real Madrid was left fuming.
PSG will now go into the second leg of the game with a one-goal lead. With the away goal rule being withdrawn, it’s still anyone’s game.
Considering that the reverse fixture will be played after almost two months, we hope for Madrid’s strong comeback.
As things stand, PSG is going into the quarterfinals of UCL at the expense of Real Madrid.