Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) traveled to Turin for their final Champions League Group H clash against Italian giants Juventus on Wednesday night (November). The hosts put up a strong fight in front of a packed Allianz Stadium, but Christopher Galtier’s side ultimately prevailed, securing a 2-1 victory.
Kylian Mbappe and Nuno Mendes found the back of the net for the Parisian side while skipper Leonardo Bonucci scored for Juventus. Despite securing a win in their last Group H fixture, PSG could not top the group. They finished in second place behind Benfica, with the Portuguese outfit edging them out on goals scored away from home (9 vs 6).
Already eliminated from the Champions League, Juventus played for pride at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday. They started the game brightly, taking the fight to PSG. In the eighth minute, they created the first real chance of the encounter. Manuel Locatelli got on the end of a loose ball on the edge of the PSG box and dispatched a venomous half-volley. It was very well-struck but zipped narrowly wide of Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal.
Having been under the cosh for a bit, PSG bounced back with an effort of their own, and unlike Juventus, they did not fail to hit the target. Mbappe superbly cut in from the left, lined up his shot, and beat Wojciech Szczesny with a piledriver of a shot.
Four minutes after seeing his team fall behind, Locatelli tried to restore parity with a curling effort. But once again, his strike drifted narrowly wide of the post. On the half-hour mark, Mbappe tried to double his tally with a speculative long-range effort. He caught the ball well, but his strike did not dip in time to test Szczesny.
We could potentially see PSG face Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Man City in the Round of 16
In the 33rd minute, Messi and Mbappe linked up inside the box, with the former going for goal with a first-time shot. The Juventus goalkeeper blocked the effort with his feet before Alex Sandro cleared the ball out of harm’s way.
Six minutes before the break, the hosts equalized, with their skipper Bonucci sliding in and tucking home Juan Cuadrado’s brilliant headed offload. PSG tried to respond before the break but failed to breach the hosts’ resistance with their often-predictable passing.
The opening phase of the second half was cagier than the first, with neither team charging for the go-ahead goal. Les Parisiens found some joy past the hour mark, with Mbappe and Sergio Ramos testing the keeper. However, neither strike was good enough to make Szczesny sweat.
The visitors finally got their noses back in front in the 69th minute, with substitute Mendes running in and dispatching a stunning shot to beat Szczesny. Ten minutes later, Juventus had the ball in the net, but the linesman promptly ruled out Locatelli’s goal for offside.
In the 84th minute, Juve players appealed for a penalty after Arkadiusz Milik’s run was blocked by Ramos. The referee deemed Ramos’ challenge fair and waved away the shout. The final stretch of the match was rather uneventful, with Juventus ultimately conceding to their fate.
PSG closed Group H with a win, but it was anything but straightforward, with a couple of players in particular struggling to find their footing. Here are three Parisian stars who performed and two who disappointed in their win over Juventus on Wednesday:
Performed: Lionel Messi
Although not at his best, Lionel Messi still produced a commendable performance in attack for the visitors. He created openings, moved the ball around well, and released Mbappe expertly down the left flank, which eventually led to PSG’s opener.
Lionel Messi has more goal contributions than Erling Haaland this season
Against Juventus, Messi made three key passes, completed 56 passes (90.3% accuracy), won two ground duels, and drew a foul.
Underperformed: Achraf Hakimi
Hailed as one of the best right-backs in the business, Achraf Hakimi was considerably below his flamboyant best on Wednesday. He rarely made inroads into the opposition third, did not create a single goalscoring opportunity, struggled to hold his ground, and often lost possession cheaply.
Hakimi made some fine interceptions (3) but that was pretty much all he could conjure against the Italians.
Friday mood 🤣
On Champions League matchday six, Hakimi lost four duels, ceded possession 10 times, and misplaced five passes. He lost the only tackle he attempted against the Old Lady.
Performed: Nuno Mendes
Juan Bernat once again got the nod to start as PSG’s left-back on Wednesday, but the former Bayern Munich man could not make the impact everyone had hoped for. To inject more directness, Galtier introduced Nuno Mendes in the 68th minute. A few seconds later, the visitors had their one-goal cushion restored, all thanks to Mendes’ bravado.
Mbappe did well to feed the ball to Mendes, but it was the Portuguese’s confidence that created the goal. He bravely dashed into the box, keeping Cuadrado at bay, and drilled his shot into the far corner.
NUNO MENDES SCORES JUST SECONDS AFTER COMING ON! MBAPPE ASSIST!
In addition to scoring the winner, Mendes made two tackles, won four of five ground duels, and drew two fouls.
Underperformed: Carlos Soler
With Neymar missing the game due to an accumulation of cards, Carlos Soler got a rare opportunity to start for PSG on Wednesday. He was expected to operate in the area just behind Mbappe and Messi, act as the link between attack and midfield. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case.
🗣 Carlos Soler:
“It is a pleasure to play with Messi and Neymar in same team. They are the best duo in the world, I suffered in Valencia when we were playing against them in Spain, now I am very happy to play with them”
Soler was practically invisible for 68 minutes, failing to do anything of note. He did not create goalscoring opportunities, lost four of six ground duels, misplaced his only attempted cross, did not have any shots, and committed three fouls. It was certainly a night to forget for the former Valencia man.
Performed: Kylian Mbappe
PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe was easily the standout player of the match on Wednesday, playing a direct part in both of the visitors’ goals.
The Frenchman superbly opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Evading challenges, he cut in from the left, lined up his shot, and let fly from just outside the D. His shot struck the inside of the right post and nestled into the back of the net. In the 69th minute, Mbappe played a great pass to Mendes, behind Juve’s defense. The spirited Portuguese full-back took care of the rest.
Kylian Mbappé is now the youngest player to score 40 goals in Champions League history (23 years, 317 days)
Apart from picking up a goal and an assist, Mbappe made three key passes, won six ground duels, completed four dribbles, and drew two fouls.
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