Kylian Mbappe anonymous as Barcelona edge PSG in Champions League thriller

Mbappe was largely marked out of the game as Barcelona claimed an away win  (Reuters)
Mbappe was largely marked out of the game as Barcelona claimed an away win (Reuters)

Barcelona came from behind to claim a dramatic 3-2 first-leg win at Paris Saint-Germain in another thrilling night of Champions League quarter-final action.

After a bright PSG start, Barcelona took control of the tie and Raphinha scored his first Champions League goal when Gianluigi Donnarumma spilled Lamine Yamal’s cross.

PSG were booed off the pitch as the half-time whistle blew at the Parc des Princes but Luis Enrique switched his team’s shape and it led to a stunning turnaround immediately after the restart.

Ousmane Dembele struck a thunderous finish to equalise against his former club and with the momentum now with the hosts, Vitinha cut through Barcelona just two minutes later to give PSG the lead.

But there would be another dramatic comeback, as Raphinha connected with an exquisite volley to drag Barcelona level. Andreas Christensen then came off the bench to head the winner from a corner, giving Barcelona a narrow advantage ahead of the return leg next week.

Here’s what we learned from another thrilling night of Champions League action

Kylian Mbappe disappears as other stars shine in thriller

Another thrilling night in the Champions League, but where was Kylian Mbappe? After the drama at the Emirates and Bernabeu last night, the Parc des Princes staged another stunning quarter-final first leg as Barcelona came from behind to beat PSG and take a lead back to Spain.

There were brilliant attacking performances all over the pitch, particularly from Barcelona forward Raphinha – as the former Leeds attacker scored his first Champions League goals, including an exquisite volley from Pedri’s chipped through ball. At the other end, Ousmane Dembele took charge to lead the fightback after half-time, scoring a rocket of an equaliser against his former club.

Mbappe, though, was largely anonymous, barely having a touch let alone an electric dribble or chance apart from a late, late shot that deflected wide. A burst of pace rescued the ball from the byline, just before Dembele lashed into the roof of the net, but that was it and Jules Kounde, Mbappe’s international teammate, did an outstanding job in marking him.

Mbappe is expected to leave PSG at the end of the season, and if this was his last Champions League appearance in Paris, it was a flat way to go out.


Barcelona expose PSG’s soft centre as Donnarumma struggles

Another hugely disappointing night for Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, with defensive frailty at the heart of the problem once again in a big knockout tie.

At the centre of it was goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who never looked comfortable dealing with crosses as Barcelona targeted the Italy international with a series of inswinging deliveries early on. Donnarumma did not cover himself in glory when he spilled Yamal’s cross, leading to Raphinha’s opener, and he then failed to command his box late on as Christensen headed Barcelona into the lead. It had been coming.

There were problems in front of Donnarumma, too, caused by a terrific all-round centre-forward display from Robert Lewandowski. The 35-year-old was excellent with his back to goal, winning his duels with Marquinhos and Lucas Beraldo, turning brilliantly to take three PSG players out of the game in the move that led to Raphinha’s opener.

As for PSG, where was the defensive resilience and solidity? It has cost the Parisians in the Champions League once again.

Lewandowski produced an excellent all-round display leading the line (Reuters)
Lewandowski produced an excellent all-round display leading the line (Reuters)

Xavi and Luis Enrique face off in thrilling tactical battle

This was a night for the impact substitute. Both Xavi and Luis Enrique were able to change the rhythm and momentum of the game with their substitutions, leading to an absorbing contest between the managers on the touchline, as well as the players on the pitch.

Barcelona manager Xavi more than held his own against his former Barca boss Enrique, and his choice of starting line-up allowed the visitors to take control of their quarter-final. Xavi also switched up his tactics, going direct to Robert Lewandowski, who PSG could not deal with in the opening stages.

But Enrique took action at half-time, seizing control back from Barcelona as he took off the ineffective false nine Marco Asensio and brought on Bradley Barcola. The move freed up Dembele to lash in his stunning equaliser, before Vitinha gave PSG the lead just two minutes later.

Xavi then replied with his own adjustment, taking off Lamine Yamal and bringing on Pedri to help steady Barcelona in midfield. The change produced an instant impact – as the former Kopa Trophy winner set up Raphinha’s equaliser with a wonderful chip over the PSG defence.

Then came yet another twist. Barcelona had been causing PSG problems all night with their inswinging corners, so the introduction of a tall centre-back in Andreas Christensen was Xavi’s next move, and the defender soon headed Barcelona back into the lead.


Barcelona’s teenage stars shine on the big stage

What a night this was for Barcelona’s legendary academy, La Masia, as history was made at the Parc des Princes. Lamine Yamal, at 16, became the youngest player to start a Champions League quarter-final. Pau Cubarsi, at 17, became the second youngest, as he lined up at the heart of the defence.

Yamal has been a breakout star this season, already playing a starring role for the Spanish national team, so it was Cubarsi who arguably made the biggest impression with a remarkably assured and confident display at centre-back. Cubarsi was composed on the ball and rarely put a foot wrong. Barcelona have another gem on their hands.

Barcelona's Pau Cubarsi celebrates after the match (Reuters)
Barcelona's Pau Cubarsi celebrates after the match (Reuters)

Pedri also deserves a mention. The 21-year-old has had a terrible time with injuries since he broke through to the first team as a teenager two years ago, so his assist for Raphinha’s equaliser was a wonderful reminder of his own talent.

Haller’s goal gives Dortmund hope against Atletico

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Borussia Dortmund created their own problems at Atletico Madrid as defensive mistakes gave the German side a mountain to climb, but Sebastian Haller’s late goal offered a lifeline at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Dortmund gifted Rodrigo de Paul an opener after four just minutes in Madrid, before another mix-up at the back allowed Antoine Griezmann to set up Samuel Lino to add a second shortly after the half-hour mark.

Haller’s instinctive turn and finish sets up an intriguing return leg in Dortmund next week - changing the momentum of the tie as Julian Brand went close to grabbing an equaliser in stoppage time with a header that crashed off the crossbar.