PSG facing familiar Champions League fate after first-leg defeat against Bayern Munich
It may be the start of a new knockout phase in the Champions League, but it looks to be the same story for Paris Saint-Germain.
The French side has failed to progress beyond the round of 16 four times in the last six seasons and could be facing the same fate this year after a 1-0 first-leg defeat against Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes.
Kingsley Coman, who also condemned PSG to a 1-0 defeat in the Champions League final two and a half years ago, scored the only goal of Tuesday’s game in the French capital, putting Bayern in control of the tie ahead of the second leg in Munich on March 8.
The German champion controlled possession for most of the contest and saw that dominance rewarded early in the second half when Coman, unmarked in the PSG box, volleyed Alphonso Davies’ cross under Gianluigi Donnarumma.
PSG responded by bringing on star striker Kylian Mbappé, who had been carrying a thigh injury ahead of the game.
Pushing for an equalizer, Mbappé, the top scorer in the Champions League this season, used his pace to get behind the Bayern defensive line but had a shot saved by the face of goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
He then had the ball in the net minutes later, only for the video assistant referee to rule that Nuno Mendes was offside in the build-up.
By now, PSG had started to come alive and Mendes was proving a lively presence on the left wing. With six minutes remaining, the Portuguese international evaded Serge Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich and found Lionel Messi free in the box, but a brilliant block from Benjamin Pavard denied the equalizer.
As the chances kept coming for PSG, Pavard was red carded after receiving a second yellow card for a late challenge on Messi. Although it made no difference to the scoreline, it does mean the defender will miss the second leg in Munich in three weeks’ time.
“We said we had to take the positives, it’s a two-legged tie,” Mbappé told reporters after the game. “We can’t change what happened in the first leg. We will go there to qualify. We know that there is a possibility. There is always a good possibility to qualify.”
While the defeat conjured up memories of PSG’s past shortcomings in the Champions League, fans did also get a glimpse into the future with Warren Zaïre-Emery becoming the youngest player to start a knockout stage game in the competition at the age of 16 years and 343 days.
The midfielder was born in 2006, more than a year after the 35-year-old Messi made his Champions League debut.
After defeats against Marseille and Monaco, PSG has now lost three matches in a row for the first time since 2020 and faces Lille in the league on Sunday in a bid to get its season back on track.
Bayern, meanwhile, has won all seven of its Champions League games this season and will feel confident about reaching the quarterfinals ahead of the second leg.
“Overall, we did a good job,” said manager Julian Nagelsmann. “We’ve taken the first step and want to follow it up by taking the second.”
In Tuesday’s other Champions League game, AC Milan defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at the San Siro thanks to Brahim Díaz’s early goal, giving the Italian side the advantage in its bid to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.