Kylian Mbappe scored the opener and set up the winner for Paris Saint-Germain as they defeated Juventus 2-1 at the Allianz Stadium in the Champions League on Wednesday, but finished a heartbreaking second in their group.
PSG came into the match thinking they needed to win to ensure top spot in Group H after entering the day level on points but ahead on goal difference over Benfica, who were playing Maccabi Haifa at the same time.
Goals from Mbappe and Nuno Mendes looked to have PSG on track to top the group, but Benfica defeated Haifa 6-1 to stay level with PSG on points and pass them on goal difference to advance as group winner on overall away goals scored.
“We’ve beaten Juventus twice and we were very happy until the 92nd minute,” PSG coach Christophe Galtier stated after the match. “But if you want to go far in this competition, you have to beat big teams. Let’s wait for the draw and see who we get in the round of 16.
“When we were winning 7-2 last week [over Maccabi], we stopped playing at the 90th minute. We conceded too many goals from set-pieces, as we did against Haifa. If we’d conceded one goal fewer, we would have finished top of the group.”
As he has done all throughout his Champions League career, Mbappe scored an exquisite early goal to begin proceedings.
The France international ghosted his defender after receiving the ball from Lionel Messi, cut to his right and lashed an unstoppable shot from the top of the area past Wojciech Szczesny to put PSG in front.
Juventus, who were already eliminated from the last 16, were undeterred by Mbappe’s moment of brilliance, though, and put pressure on the PSG backline in the minutes following the opener with Manuel Locatelli and Juan Cuadrado both narrowly missing efforts from distance.
The end-to-end action continued as Mbappe’s hopeful shot from 30 yards out went close and Fabio Miretti just missed at Gianluigi Donnarumma’s far post after finding space in the area as the teams traded opportunities around the 30-minute mark.
A deserved equalizer finally came for Juventus off the boot of club stalwart Leonardo Bonucci, who redirected a low Cuadrado header across the front of the goalmouth into the back of the net shortly before half-time to make it 1-1 at the break.
Juventus had the better of the opening minutes of the second half, but substitute Mendes turned the game in PSG’s favor, scoring a well-taken goal from an Mbappe assist right after replacing Juan Bernat in the 68th minute.
Filip Kostic’s 78th minute rocket from the top of the box was saved by Donnarumma, but fell right into the path of Locatelli for an easy finish that would have leveled the score only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
With Benfica beating Maccabi Haifa, Juventus still secured a spot in the Europe League despite the defeat and, along with PSG and the Portuguese champions will learn their opponents for the upcoming rounds in Monday’s draw.
The defeat ensured Juventus lost five of their six Champions League group stage matches for the first time. Prior to this season, they had only ever suffered five defeats in one Champions League season back in 2002-03, when they lost one game in the first group stage, three in the second as well as one of their semifinal legs.