A controversial penalty like few others, in stoppage time, in desperation and when it seemed that the abyss of elimination was gripping Paris Saint-Germain, allowed Kylian Mbappé to tie against Newcastle and keep the French’s chances of qualifying for the round of 16 alive. Champions League final.
Until the 98th minute, the Parque de los Príncipes had a heavy heart because a goal from the Swede Aleksander Isak left them in a very compromised situation, on the verge of the first elimination in the group stage of the Qatari era, which compromised Luis Enrique’s project. . But the last gasp, a hand whistle thanks to the VAR when everything seemed lost, rescued them against a willful Newcastle, who now see their options of remaining pending a difficult carom.
In a short time, the English went from having their destiny in their hands to depending on PSG losing in Dortmund while they defeat Milan. A complex equation. Quite the opposite of the French, who in that fateful minute went from a more than likely elimination to having in their hands the option of moving forward for the twelfth consecutive season.
Deprived of eight key players, the English got a draw from Paris, a creditable result after the overwhelming victory achieved in Saint James Park, and they did it based on order and in a trigonometry lesson that was left without any more prize for the final hand of Livramento. The two coaches opted for asphyxiation, for a game without spaces, played in apnea, not a second to think, not a moment to calibrate, only the quick gestures, the electric executions illuminated the clash at so many revolutions that it seemed that it could explode in every moment.
Each ball was a duel, each play a battle, a permanent challenge that put the heart in a fist, without rest, charging on every centimeter of the grass, worthy of everything that was at stake. Supported by the crowd, the French came out more determined and after three minutes they had tried their luck on both sides, convincing Eddie Howe’s men that it was not going to be a trench war.
But in the last gesture, the Spaniard Fabián Ruiz, in charge of taking the emblem left absent by the injured Warren Zaïre-Emery, lacked aim, and six later Mbappé was too adorned in a cross from Achraf Hakimi that he wanted to score from a rabona but found himself with goalkeeper Nick Pope. The initial Parisian attack was answered in the 12th minute in a quick English counterattack that ended in a cross from Paraguayan Miguel Almiron that Isak, at the near post, finished over the crossbar.
The chill ran through the Parc des Princes and moderated the momentum of the locals, which balanced the duel and, in the process, ordered the pieces of Newcastle, which imposed its strategy on the French cavalry. It was the announcement of another English push, this time fruitful in the 24th minute, born from the boots of Valentino Livramento, who left the ball open for a shot by Almirón that Donnarumma rejected, but the Italian goalkeeper left it in the small area where the astute Isak scored the first goal of the European campaign away from home.
It was no longer a chill, now it was real fear that took over the stands, while Newcastle clung with more confidence to the scoreboard that was giving them such a good result. Mbappé insisted that his team not go to the locker room below but, hyper-accelerated, somewhat overacting, the Frenchman was a metaphor for PSG’s impotence, a lot of enthusiasm but little effectiveness.
As the minutes passed, the transfer of confidence was more evident in the English field, increasingly greased, in contrast to the increasing rival errors. Luis Enrique responded by removing the ineffective Kolo Muani to give the left wing to the young Bradley Barcola and leave Mbappé complete freedom of movement, although away from his beloved flank. PSG won in depth, cornering the English and maintaining the flame of hope, but found an inspired Pope.
While Newcastle no longer gave news far from their area, the Spanish coach went all out, bringing on Marco Asensio and Gonçalo Ramos to place five attackers to tear down the English wall, which Mbappé made tremble in a couple of occasions. He only fell at the end, the result of a bounced ball that ended up in Livramento’s hand and the VAR pointed to the nine meters from which Mbappé washed away his bad game a little to once again caress the eighth that moves away from Newcastle.
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