These two heavyweights of European football looked keen to feel each other out in the early stages. Rather predictably, it was Kylian Mbappé who mounted the first assault, as he tormented Dani Carvajal before squaring to Ángel Di Maria, but the Argentinian blazed his effort over the bar. So heavily linked with a switch to ‘Los Blancos’ in the summer, Mbappé was showing his suitors what they could be getting as he found himself behind again, only to be denied by Thibaut Courtois after a tame shot. PSG certainly looked a yard faster than their more experienced counterparts in the first half, but the visitors’ know-how took the sting out of Mauricio Pochettino’s side as the interval approached.
The hosts were quick out of the blocks after the break and created their best chance within five minutes of the restart. The incisive interplay on the edge of the box allowed Mbappé a snapshot, but Courtois got down smartly to his right to deny the Frenchman. On the hour mark, Carvajal’s resistance was finally broken, as he hacked down Mbappé inside the box, leaving little need for a VAR review. Fittingly, it was Real’s nemesis, Messi, who would step up from 12 yards. On his 46th meeting with the Spanish giants, and his first not in Barcelona colors, Messi fluffed his lines, as Courtois comfortably denied him from the spot.
Once again, Mbappé nearly broke the deadlock, as he curled a close-range effort from the left agonizingly wide. He’d threatened to do it all night, but the 23-year-old finally produced a moment of world-class quality in stoppage time to win the game. Neymar’s intelligent flick gave the Frenchman space on the left before he slalomed between Éder Militão and Lucas Vázquez and finished superbly. Real tasted defeat away from home in the last 16 for just the second time in their last 12, leaving them with an uphill task in the second leg.