Bayern edge PSG to take pole position to reach quarters
Bayern Munich has taken a commanding lead in the race to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League, following a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie at the Parc des Princes. The former PSG player Kingsley Coman scored the decisive goal for the German champions with a well-executed volley in the 53rd minute of the game.
The hosts struggled to find their rhythm throughout the game and were outplayed by their opponents. Despite several chances for both teams, Coman’s strike was the only goal of the match, aided by a rare mistake from PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who failed to stop the ball from slipping through his grasp.
In a repeat of the 2020 Champions League final, Kingsley Coman proved to be the hero once again for Bayern Munich, scoring the only goal in their 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie. PSG’s star player Kylian Mbappe was not fit enough to start the match but came off the bench to score two goals, both of which were ruled out for offside.
Despite their late resurgence, the French champions were unable to find an equalizer. Bayern finished the game with ten men following the dismissal of Benjamin Pavard, who was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time. Nonetheless, the German champions held on to secure a vital away victory, putting themselves in a strong position to progress to the quarterfinals of the competition.
“We played really well in the first 25 minutes and the best team on the night won. It’s an important victory but there’s a second leg coming,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said.
“We were dominant and aggressive in the beginning. Then they started to find some depth when Mbappe came on.”
Following their third consecutive defeat in all competitions, Paris Saint-Germain will need to significantly elevate their performance in the second leg in Munich in three weeks’ time if they hope to keep their hopes of winning their first-ever Champions League title alive.
The French giants have struggled for form recently, and their defeat against Bayern Munich has only added to their woes. With an important away goal secured, the German champions will be confident of seeing out the tie and progressing to the quarterfinals.
PSG will need to produce a much-improved display in the return leg if they are to mount a comeback and keep their Champions League dreams alive.
“We had a tough hour against a team who enjoyed possession and pressed high,” PSG manager Christophe Galtier said. “Conceding that goal before Kylian came on was a pity but they deserved to score.”
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) were hoping for a boost with the return of Lionel Messi to their starting lineup after he missed their loss to Monaco, but they were without Kylian Mbappe. Instead, PSG gave 16-year-old Warren Zaire-Emery a start, making him the youngest player ever to begin a Champions League knockout game.
Bayern Munich took control of the game from the beginning, dominating possession while PSG struggled to even get the ball and make their way out of their own half. With three at the back and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as the lone striker, Bayern looked much more fluid against PSG’s flat 4-4-2, with support from Joao Cancelo, Coman, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, and Jamal Musiala.
Although Bayern was able to maintain control, they struggled to make a real threat on the PSG goal, with only one save from Gianluigi Donnarumma in the first half. However, PSG was also able to prevent clear efforts on goal with good defending from Sergio Ramos and Nuno Mendes.
With just one shot at goal in the first half, PSG’s coach, Christophe Galtier, replaced Achraf Hakimi with Presnel Kimpembe at half-time to match Bayern’s back three.
However, it was Bayern’s substitute, Alphonso Davies, who made an immediate impact to bring about the opening goal. Just eight minutes after coming on for Cancelo, Davies whipped in a deep cross from the left, leaving Coman completely free at the back post to side-foot a low volley past Donnarumma.
Even though PSG brought Mbappe off the bench for his first appearance since suffering a hamstring strain two weeks ago, he did not look like his usual explosive self. The action continued to be concentrated in the PSG half, with Donnarumma redeeming himself for the earlier goal with two impressive saves.
Finally, PSG came to life with Mbappe offering enough to give them the attacking threat they had lacked. Mbappe was denied by Yann Sommer as he ran through on goal before he was ruled offside after putting a rebound from Neymar’s follow-up into the net.
The Parc des Princes thought the equalizer had arrived with eight minutes remaining when Mbappe converted a cutback from Mendes, but by the smallest margin, a VAR check found Mendes to have been just offside in the buildup.