PARIS, France – Paris St. Germain were held to a 1-1 home draw by Benfica in their Champions League Group H clash on Tuesday, October 11, as Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring for the French side amid swirling rumors about his future.
Mbappe netted with a first-half penalty before Joao Mario equalized with another spot kick in the 62nd minute to give the visitors a deserved share of the points as PSG failed to win for the third game in a row in all competitions.
Mbappe also found the net with a bicycle kick four minutes from fulltime but his effort was ruled out for an obvious offside.
The result left PSG top of the group on 8 points from four games, ahead of Benfica on goals scored.
Juventus are third on 3 points, ahead of Maccabi Haifa after they were stunned 2-0 by the Israeli team earlier on Tuesday.
At the Parc des Princes, Mbappe appeared unperturbed by Spanish and French media reports claiming he wants to leave the club during the next transfer window due to the way he is being utilized on the pitch.
“I’m always with Kylian Mbappe and he’s never told me anything about leaving in January. The president never told me anything about him leaving in January,” PSG’s football advisor Luis Campos said.
“I’m here to deny this and say that Kylian never told me or the president that he wanted to leave in January.”
Coach Christophe Galtier added: “From a rumor, you make information… I have not talked with Kylian, he is focused on the pitch and he showed tonight what a great player he is.”
On the pitch, France forward Mbappe combined well with Neymar but PSG lacked something in attack in the absence of Lionel Messi, who was ruled out of the game with a calf injury he sustained last week in the 1-1 draw at the Estadio da Luz, which was followed by a goalless draw at Stade de Reims at the weekend.
Mbappe was replaced in the last minute as he limped off the pitch with a sore ankle five days before PSG face bitter Ligue 1 rivals Olympique de Marseille.
Benfica made the brighter start, although they failed to create clear chances while it took PSG 34 minutes to get their first shot on target through Pablo Sarabia, whose weak attempt was easily blocked by Odysseas Vlachodimos.
Six minutes later, however, the hosts took the lead when Mbappe coolly converted a penalty after Juan Bernat had been fouled in the area by Antonio Silva. The goal meant he became PSG’s top scorer in the Champions League with 31 goals – one more than Edinson Cavani.
Mbappe was at it again six minutes into the second half, but his curled, right-footed effort went just wide.
Benfica then leveled shortly after the hour as Mario converted a spot kick after a bad foul on Rafa Silva by Marco Verratti.
Both teams seemed content with one point each from an underwhelming encounter, which left them on the brink of qualification for the last 16.
PSG next host Maccabi on October 25 when Benfica will take on Juventus. – Rappler.com