Real Madrid 2-2 PSG: 5 Talking Points and Tactical Analysis | Champions League 2019-20
Despite Real Madrid's two-goal cushion with ten minutes to play, PSG recovered the deficit to confirm their fate as Group A winners and salvage a well-earned point, courtesy of goals from Kylian Mbappe and substitute Pablo Sarabia during a memorable Group A clash.
Karim Benzema continued his excellent goalscoring form with a well-taken brace. He broke the deadlock with an expertly-finished rebound moments after Isco hit the post in the first-half - before beating Presnel Kimpembe to Marcelo's cross and unleashing a downward header beyond former teammate Keylor Navas with eleven minutes to play.
Navas was comfortably the visitors' best performer on his return to Madrid, having left in a £13.5m move this past summer after five successful years with Los Blancos. If not for his crucial saves and excellent reactions, PSG wouldn't have had much chance for a second-half comeback in truth - especially doing well to deny Kroos, Marcelo and Isco's goalbound efforts, he made a whopping ten saves over the 90 minutes.
It could've been a completely different game had VAR not intervened on the stroke of half-time, with referee Artur Soares Dias overruling his initial decisions to award PSG a penalty and Thibaut Courtois a straight red card after hauling down Mauro Icardi in the box.
Seconds earlier in the build-up during that same play, he waved play on as Idrissa Gueye pushed Marcelo off-the-ball but saw replays and instead ruled a Real Madrid free-kick was the correct verdict. Neymar replaced Gueye at half-time to make his first Champions League appearance of the campaign, as Thomas Tuchel's men somehow managed to battle back - Mbappe's strike coming seconds after the restart when Benzema doubled their lead.
Sarabia, a former Real Madrid youngster, levelled the scoring with a fantastic finish which arrowed into the top corner to cap a whirlwind five minutes. Gareth Bale, replacing the injured Eden Hazard midway through the second-half, almost turned hero with the game's last kick, but his free-kick effort cannoned off the far post. Without further ado, here's five talking points from a real Champions League classic:
#5 Eden Hazard's exciting display cruelly ended
Club Brugge's 1-1 draw with Galatasaray meant Real had mathematically qualified for the knockout stages before kick-off but more was at stake than just closing the gap on the Group A leaders. They wanted to avenge their 3-0 away defeat in September and on a wet night at the Bernabeú, Eden Hazard went on a mission to wow the supporters.
He has struggled with niggling injuries, fitness issues and consistency since his big-money move over the summer but this display was arguably his most impressive against top opposition for a while. You could almost sense the eagerness to impress from minute one, combining well with Benzema while expressing himself in the final third.
Fancy flicks, brilliant touches and the confident close-control dribbling to match, he was finally playing fearlessly and compatriot Thomas Meunier had a real task to try and nullify the 28-year-old's impact.
Creating Benzema's first goal, he effortlessly beat both Marquinhos and Meunier in transition before scanning for options and passing forward across to the right-hand side. Federico Valverde combined with Daniel Carvajal before feeding Isco, whose effort cannoned back off the upright and into the path of an alert Benzema to make no mistake.
He could've created another too, but for Navas' last-ditch intervention at the near post to thwart an onrushing Benzema after being teed up inside the box by the Belgian. The pair continued to threaten alongside Marcelo down the left-hand side before Eden's match was abruptly ended by none other than compatriot Meunier for a cynical hack of the ankles.
Despite receiving treatment on the sidelines, Eden looked in serious discomfort and there was no point risking further damage. Instead he limped off with medical assistance to a warm reception from the home supporters: hoping he recovers quickly to continue delivering confident displays like that in future. Four successful dribbles and key passes, 90.9% pass completion rate, seven of 13 duels won, fouled twice with one completed tackle.