Champions League: Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe help PSG recover from an early Maccabi shock
Wednesday’s Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Maccabi Haifa ended in a 3-1 victory for PSG thanks to assists from Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe and a late goal from Neymar.
After Maccabi midfielder Tjaronn Chery headed in a cross in the 24th minute, Messi scored a crucial equaliser for PSG in the 37th minute off a cross from Mbappe.
“We slacked off a little bit and let up the opening goal. After then, we were able to make the difference, according to Mbappe. “I hope we continue to score goals as a trio because it means we’ll win games.”
Mbappe subsequently scored his third goal in two group games in the 69th minute after Messi’s perfectly timed pass sent him barreling down the left.
In the 88th minute, Neymar pounced on a lofted cross from Marco Verratti in the middle of the field, controlled the ball with his right thigh, and smashed it into the goal to break a Champions League scoring drought that had lasted since December 2020.
Together with Benfica, which triumphed 2-1 at Juventus in the other match, PSG leads Group H with six points.
However, PSG’s performance against a Maccabi team led by the deft Chery was sporadic at times.
Mbappe told Canal Plus that “we need to work hard and we need to develop soon in our playing style.”
On the verge of halftime, Chery, who was wearing the No. 10 shirt but was far less famous than PSG’s No. 10, Neymar, came close to doubling the lead.
Chery juggled the ball three times before firing a fiery 25-meter shot that PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma palmed away low. Neymar would have been proud of Chery’s fantastic creativity.
When Mbappe attempted and failed to go around Maccabi goalkeeper Joshua Cohen early on, he lost a chance. Before the home team scored, Donnarumma made a low save.
PSG lost the ball in midfield recklessly 39 times in the opening 30 minutes, thus Maccabi immediately transferred the ball to the right. Dolev Haziza sent in a cross, which Chery skillfully volleyed in with his left foot from close range, beating Donnarumma who was left alone.
PSG’s team spirit was absent, as it had been in past campaigns, and none of the players intervened until Mbappe sprinted down the left and clipped a cross inside that was deflected, allowing Messi to guide the ball home in the 37th minute.
PSG defeated Juventus 2-1 last week thanks to two goals from Mbappe, while Maccabi lost 2-0 to Benfica to start the group round.
But immediately after the interval, Maccabi broke through PSG’s porous midfield and had two half-chances. Although Neymar appeared to lose patience with his teammates and spoke at length with Verratti and Marquinhos, PSG’s offence once again proved to be the difference-maker.