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Magic Mbappe spares Messi's blushes as PSG secure deserved Real Madrid lead

02:25 GMT+4 16/02/2022
Kylian Mbappe PSG Paris Saint-Germain 2021-22
The France forward stepped up in stoppage time to score a wonderful goal after the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner had missed from the penalty spot

Match statistics: Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 Real Madrid

Inside a jubilant Parc des Princes, few people would have been more pleased to see Kylian Mbappe net his last-gasp winner over Real Madrid than Lionel Messi.

Paris Saint-Germain had spent much of the preceding 93 minutes camped around the visitors' box, waiting for a moment of brilliance to open Los Blancos up.

The closest they had previously come was when Mbappe had drawn a silly foul in the box from Dani Carvajal, who he teased remorselessly all evening.

Step forward Messi.

With his biggest kick since arriving in Paris in August, this was the moment for him to truly announce himself in the French capital. Instead, the Argentine was thwarted by Thibaut Courtois.

His effort was crisply struck, but lacked the accuracy to beat the big Belgian, who pawed it away, having correctly guessed to dive to his left.

That moment encapsulated much of the game, as PSG were frustrated by a Madrid side that was well drilled by Carlo Ancelotti, the man who was voted as the hosts’ greatest ever coach.

While the Parisians frequently made headway down the flanks, they were greeted with a massed rank of six or seven defenders in the box that proved impregnable.

Aside from a flurry of opportunities at the start of the second half, PSG’s pressure had largely been weathered without genuine menace.

The arrival of Neymar in the closing stages, however, added another dimension to their play.

On his return from injury, the Brazil international looked more match sharp than he had any right to, and his presence seemed to create holes that were not evident previously.

In the minutes leading up to Mbappe’s winner, both he and Neymar had got in behind the Madrid defence, only to clip crosses into no-man’s land when faced with Coutois and a seemingly impossible angle to beat him.

The odds were similarly stacked against Mbappe in the closing seconds when he gathered the ball on the left side of the box. But after a lightning stepover and a quick shimmy, he squeezed between Eder Militao and Lucas Vazquez before planting a shot beyond Courtois with the aid of a slight deflection.

Just when Maurico Pochettino's side seemed to have blown their chance of taking a lead to Spain next month, Mbappe found a moment of magic to create a solution.

Little wonder the Liga leaders are so eager to add him to their ranks when his contract expires in the summer.

In many ways, this match had the build of a typical PSG home encounter. They monopolised territory, had the vast majority of the ball and were only threatened in the lightest sense by their opponents’ counterattacking.

And it had the conclusion that many of their Ligue 1 matches have had this season, with teams ultimately wilting under the relentless pressure in the closing stages of the game.

However, this tie is far from over.

PSG have yet to win away from home in the Champions League this season, having drawn at Club Brugge and RB Leipzig before being swept away by Manchester City.

Messi’s penalty miss may, then, come back to haunt the home side, but for the moment they can celebrate in the glory of another wonderful Mbappe moment.