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Star-studded PSG fail to secure Champions League top spot

Lionel Messi’s team could face Manchester City or Real Madrid in the last 16

Paris Saint-Germain could face some of the Champions League’s toughest opposition in the last 16 after the French giants failed to secure first place in their group. 

PSG beat Juventus 2-1 in Turin on Wednesday night thanks to goals from Kylian Mbappe and Nuno Gomes. 

With his first-half strike, Mbappe notched his 40th effort in the Champions League, making him the youngest player to reach the mark at 23 years and 317 days old, surpassing Lionel Messi’s previous record of 24 years and 130 days. 

Both PSG and Benfica finished with 14 points in Group H after four wins and two draws, with 16 goals scored and seven conceded.

But after the Portuguese team thrashed Maccabi Haifa 6-1 in Israel, they clinched the group through the unique rule of overall away goals scored.

The development could immediately throw PSG into the lions’ den when the last 16 draw is made on Monday.

Their second-place finish puts them in line to face English champions Manchester City or Champions League and La Liga holders Real Madrid, who knocked them out in devastating comeback fashion last season at the same stage of the tournament.

Bayern Munich are another potentially dangerous opponent, as are Chelsea, Italian Serie A leaders Napoli, Porto, or Tottenham Hotspur. 

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Lionel Messi broke new records in the Champions League on Tuesday night © Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
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Post-match, Mbappe preferred to look on the bright side. 

“We’re qualified,” he said. “We wanted to win the group but that’s what happens in football.

“We were a bit shaky, a bit uncertain, but it’s the Champions League and winning is always the most important thing.

“I’m pleased that I scored and I’m pleased that we won. We’ll have to see what the draw brings,” he added.

Elsewhere in the competition, new Chelsea manager Graham Potter made sure that his team finished top of Group E with a win after they came back from behind to beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-1.

The Blues had already sealed their qualification to the knockout phases last week. But nothing was certain among the other three teams until AC Milan sunk RB Salzburg 4-0, with ex-Chelsea man Olivier Giroud bagging a brace.

In the early kick-offs, Group F winners Real Madrid administered a 5-1 thrashing to whipping boys Glasgow Celtic at the same time RB Leipzig qualified for the last 16 by beating Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 away.

When he scored in the 10th minute, Christopher Nkunku performed one of the most peculiar celebrations in recent times by taking a red balloon out of his sock and blowing it up. 

With nothing to play for in Group G as everyone’s fate was already decided on Matchday 5, Manchester City overcame an early scare from Sevilla to come back and beat the Spaniards 3-1. 

Rafa Mir scored for Sevilla around the half hour mark, but 17-year-old City academy graduate Rico Lewis made history by becoming the youngest player since Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema to net on his first start in the competition when equalizing in the 52nd minute.

Julian Alvarez’s goal to put City ahead saw Kevin De Bruyne deliver a delicious through ball assist that was the talk of social media before Riyadh Mahrez sealed the points seven minutes from time. 

With Dortmund already through as Group G runners up, they allowed Copenhagen to score their first goal of this edition of the tournament when Hakon Arnar Haraldsson canceled Thorgan Hazard’s earlier opener approaching half time in an eventual 1-1 draw.

https://ift.tt/cesR8Yn 03, 2022 at 03:32PM
from RT – Daily news

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