Paris Saint-Germain will have to wait to secure their place in the Champions League knockouts as Benfica again held them to a 1-1 draw, this time in Paris, at the end of a cagey affair which was somewhat overshadowed by Kylian Mbappé’s transfer status. The result and the performance though, were ostensibly affected by Lionel Messi’s absence, as the hosts continued to struggle going forward, as they did in the Argentine’s absence against Reims.
Neither side would carve out any clear-cut chances for much of the first half, with both defences holding firm up until Juan Bernat was brought down in the box, and a determined Kylian Mbappé tucked it away to open the scoring. Les Parisiens then looked visibly more comfortable, as evidenced by Neymar’s sombrero over Florentino.
The forward, who became PSG’s all-time top goalscorer in the Champions League in the process, very much looked to have put to one side the claims that he had asked to leave in January, as reported earlier in the evening.
It wasn’t to be smooth sailing from here on though, as the second half saw PSG once again struggle to find the breakthrough and a needless foul from Marco Verratti in his own box was punished from the spot by João Mário for the visitors’ equaliser.
Mbappé looked to have scored the winner on a great volleyed finish five minutes from time, and capped off a rollercoaster of a day for him, but the strike was ruled out for offside.
PSG player ratings
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 5
Sergio Ramos, 5
Marquinhos, 6 – The Brazilian with a solid performance which kept Gonçalo Ramos quiet and limited the visitors to scarcely any clear-cut opportunities. His work to prevent Julian Draxler on the break at the end of the match a crucial moment, while his precise passes from the back were crucial to a nonetheless stunted build-up play.
Danilo Pereira, 5
Achraf Hakimi, 4
Marco Verratti, 5 – A solid first half – notably creating the chance which led to Bernat winning the penalty – which was later overshadowed by the needless tackle to give away the spot-kick which led to Benfica’s equaliser in the second. His yellow card means he is suspended for the next fixture, against Maccabi Haifa.
Juan Bernat, 5
Pablo Sarabia, 3 – Being Lionel Messi’s stand-in is obviously no easy task, but the Spaniard was consistently one step behind his attacking partners and offered very little. Messi’s absence to a calf injury has left the PSG attack directionless, and as talented as Sarabia is, stepping in to coordinate Neymar and Mbappé was a tall order.
Neymar, 6 – An ultimately ineffectual but active performance from the Brazilian, who found himself leading attacks forward with intent on more than one occasion but was ultimately victim to PSG’s disorganised, Messi-less fronline.
Kylian Mbappé, 6 – The most active of Paris Saint-Germain’s frontline but mostly missing his final touch. The World Cup winner opened the scoring from the spot and nearly sealed the win in the dying minutes with a great volley, which was eventually ruled out for offside.
Others: Fabián Ruiz (84′), Nordi Mukiele (84′), Carlos Soler (89′), Hugo Ekitike (73′)