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Kylian Mbappé double gives PSG thrilling win at Bayern Munich

The Guardian - Wed Apr 7 21:03

Kylian Mbappé produced a performance of stunning high-end incision to drive Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-2 Champions League quarter final first leg victory in Munich.

Hansi Flick’s Bayern produced the familiar high-pressing red waves, racking up 31 shots at goal over a thrilling, slightly wild 90 minutes. But they were picked off repeatedly by Mbappé’s movement and some precision passing from Neymar.

By the end PSG had inflicted Bayern’s second defeat in 29 games in this competition, but it won’t count as revenge for last summer’s final until the last kick in Paris. That job is far from over after a night when Bayern created a constant stream of chances that the injured Robert Lewandowski would surely have gorged himself on.

The Allianz Arena was drenched in April snow at kick-off, on a night so cold even the referee wore gloves. But Paris ran hot from the start. With two minutes gone they took the lead, and did so in the most PSG way imaginable, breaking from halfway through Ángel Di María, who released the ball to Neymar, who played the perfect nudged pass to Mbappé.

His shot was hard and low but straight at Manuel Neuer. It bounced off his legs and into the near corner of the net.

For a while PSG looked like they might score every time they attacked, with Mbappé lurking on the shoulder of that customary high red line. Both teams had lined up in a 4-2-3-1, but this was a delicious clash of counterattack and high-pressing blitz as Bayern poured forward at the other end.

Even without Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, there is an irresistible momentum about this Bayern team. Kingsley Coman found space on the right. Keylor Navas produced a wonderful reflex save from Leon Goretzka’s close range header, then another sprawling block to repel a vicious drive from Josh Kimmich.

The Bayern style works best when the defence and midfield compress around the halfway line, but it does tend to leave a very obvious target behind. It’s the game Bayern play, with a conviction that they have the skill and the personnel to assert their own rhythms, but at times in the first half Neymar was given the freedom of Bavaria.

With 28 minutes gone it was 2-0. The goal was made from the same component parts. Another Mbappé surge down the right forced a corner. As the ball was cleared Bayern charged out. Neymar dinked a wonderful pass back over the advancing red front to find Marquinhos all alone, with time to slide the ball into the corner.

The Allianz Arena is a boisterous place at the best of times, but the silence as the white shirts ran to celebrate felt authentic. Bayern had been sliced apart.

Marquinhos finishes confidently to put PSG 2-0 up
Marquinhos finishes confidently to put PSG 2-0 up, shortly before going off injured. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Marquinhos left the field almost immediately with what looked like a groin injury. Goretzka exited on 32 minutes, replaced by Alphonso Davies, who added instant attacking presence down the left. And five minutes later Bayern pulled one back. Kimmich whipped a deep cross into the box, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting headed powerfully into the corner, a fine finish from a player who, aged 32, has never got past 10 league goals in a season for any of his eight professional teams.

By the time the second half kicked off Bayern had also lost Niklas Süle, replaced by Jerome Boateng. And still the game carried on the same way, a wonderfully open, chaotic thing.

David Alaba had pushed up into midfield and began to run the game from a space just outside the PSG penalty area. And on the hour mark Bayern were level with a goal from Thomas Müller, exploring the hidden space in a crowded area to flick Kimmich’s free kick into the comer. Those waves of red-shirted pressure had dragged Bayern back into the tie.

PSG were missing the calming midfield rhythms of Marco Verratti, but they retained that razor edge and before long Bayern were cut open again. Mbappé veered in from the left, waited for Boateng to lunge then pinged the ball though his legs to make it 3-2.

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Both teams kept on slugging it out to the end. Müller shot past the left hand post. Alaba shaved the other one. It was thrilling, dizzy stuff as the blizzard returned. But Mauricio Pochettino’s men hung on, with Colin Dagba an outstanding defensive obstacle at the death.