PLAYER RATINGS | Dortmund 1-1 PSG: Warren Zaïre-Emery secures Les Parisiens’ Champions League progression

UEFA Champions League, Matchday 6, 13/12/23

Paris Saint-Germain secured a nervy draw against Borussia Dortmund (1-1) to secure their spot in the Champions League knockout stages. Warren Zaïre-Emery’s equaliser, which saw him become the youngest Frenchman to score in the UCL, was enough to see PSG advance at the expense of Newcastle United and AC Milan. 

A victory for PSG would guarantee their spot in the knockout stages, and they began with intent. Whilst the first major chance fell to Dortmund, with Marius Wolf shooting wide under pressure from Lucas Hernandez, PSG really should have taken the lead through Kylian Mbappé. The France captain rounded Gregor Kobel and looked destined to score, however, Niklas Süle made a recovery with an incredible sliding clearance off the line. 

PSG spurn glorious chances

Just three minutes later, Bradley Barcola cut inside onto his right foot inside the box and curled an effort off the post before Randal Kolo Muani raced through on goal. However, having outpaced Mats Hummels, his tame shot past Kobel went just the wrong side of the post. 

Dortmund threatened too, especially from dead-ball situations. Hummels had two great headed chances from Julian Brandt free-kicks but the best chance arguably came to Karim Adayemi, who reacted quickest after Gianluigi Donnarumma parried Salih Özcan’s effort back into danger. However, his rushed effort flew well over. 

Kolo Muani had another chance before the break and drew a good save from Kobel, however, despite multiple glorious chances for both sides, the teams headed back to the dressing rooms with the scores level. 

The scores didn’t remain level for long. Achraf Hakimi was too easily disposed deep inside his own half and Dortmund worked the ball to Karim Adeyemi, whose finish went in off the inside of the post. With Newcastle United leading at the time against AC Milan, Les Parisiens needed a goal and it came soon after. 

PSG finish second, behind Borussia Dortmund

Mbappé was kept quiet for long periods but in his more comfortable position out on the left flank, he had a decisive influence on the game, beating his man for pace and cutting a deflected pass back into the middle into the path of Zaïre-Emery, whose driven finish finally beat Kobel. 

PSG continued to push, knowing that another goal would seal their progression, regardless of results elsewhere. Mbappé put the ball in the back of the net after being played through by Hakimi, however, the France captain was marginally offside. Barcola then should have done better from a good position after some good work from Vitinha worked a 3-v-4 situation, however, goals in the match between Newcastle United and AC Milan saw PSG ease off the gas late on. With Milan taking the lead, PSG only needed a draw, but a loss would see them crash out at the Serie A side’s expense. Les Parisiens therefore made the wise choice to retain possession and see the game out, which they succeeded in doing. 

It was a nervy night for PSG, but the essential was secured and the Ligue 1 club have secured their spot in the Round of 16 of the Champions League.

PSG player ratings 
Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6

Not always the most convincing, palming some shots back into danger, however, he did make five saves on the night. A considerable contribution on an important night. 

Lucas Hernandez – 7

The strongest of all the PSG defenders. He showed great aggression to prevent Wolf from potentially opening the scoring early on. He is used to playing against Dortmund, having played for the other side in Der Klassiker, and he played the match with the intensity of a derby. 

Milan Skriniar – 4
Marquinhos – 5
Achraf Hakimi – 4
Warren Zaïre-Emery – 7

The youngest Frenchman to ever score in the Champions League. On this night of high tension, it wasn’t an experienced head that stepped up, but 17-year-old Zaïre-Emery, whose perfectly timed run from deep allowed him to finish unpressured past Kobel. Alongside Vitinha, he controlled the game nicely and was especially effective in transitional phases.

Vitinha – 7

He was so often the instigator for Les Parisiens. His distribution and vertical, almost unopposed runs through the thirds were a great source of threat for PSG, who managed to create a very dangerous numerical overload midway through the first half, however, despite his great work, his team didn’t capitalise. He was outshone by midfielder partner Zaïre-Emery, but his contribution was almost just as important. 

Lee Kang-in – 3

A sloppy and wasteful display from Lee, who missed a golden chance early on (although there may have been an offside in the build-up). He also gave possession away cheaply on several occasions, not only disrupting PSG’s rhythm but also putting his defenders in danger. 

Randal Kolo Muani – 3
Kylian Mbappé – 5

Another quiet night for Mbappé in this new “free role” he often occupied central areas, but it was out wide where he did the most damage. He ought to have scored early on, and whilst Mbappé can be criticised for his weak finish, Süle’s recovery was, however, extraordinary.

His run down the left created the opportunity for PSG’s equaliser. He almost got on the scoresheet, but his run in behind was mistimed and he was caught marginally offside. The France captain was not at his most influential, but he made an impact nonetheless. 

Bradley Barcola – 4

Barcola’s finishing has come in for criticism since his summer move, and whilst he almost got on the scoresheet with a curled effort that hit the post, he really ought to have scored with a chance in the second half. His shot was weak and rushed, even though he was under no pressure. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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