Connect with us


PSG held by Benfica amid reports Mbappe wants to leave

Benfica midfielder Rafa Silva (left) fights for the ball with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Kylian Mbappe scored from the penalty spot but Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday in a game overshadowed by reports claiming the France star is so unhappy at the club he wants to leave in January.

PSG would have qualified for the last 16 from Group H with two games to spare by beating the Portuguese giants at the Parc des Princes.

They took the lead when Mbappe slotted in a penalty five minutes before half-time.

However, Joao Mario levelled from the penalty spot for Benfica just after the hour mark and the result conserves their unbeaten record this season.

The sides are level on eight points at the top of the group, five ahead of Juventus and Israel’s Maccabi Haifa, who claimed a stunning 2-0 win over the Italians earlier on Tuesday.

PSG, who are top of Ligue 1, should still advance comfortably to the knockout phase but all is far from rosy in the French capital.

The club was unsettled ahead of this match by reports that Mbappe wants away already, a little over four months after turning down a move to Real Madrid to sign a new three-year contract in Paris.

Club denial

The story was published by Madrid-based sports daily Marca and later by several French media, but PSG firmly denied any suggestion that their superstar striker could depart during the next transfer window.

“I am with Kylian Mbappe every day and he has never spoken to me about leaving in January,” PSG’s football advisor Luis Campos told broadcaster Canal Plus ahead of the game.

“This is not anything the player has said. It is a press report, and reporting such a story before a match like this is very serious.”

Mbappe’s apparent unhappiness appears to stem from the club’s failure to sign a new centre-forward during the close season, with Robert Lewandowski among the players linked with the Qatar-owned outfit before eventually choosing Barcelona.

PSG also missed out to West Ham United for the Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca.

Mbappe, 23, hinted at his frustration after playing for France last month, saying he has “much more freedom” when on international duty playing off Olivier Giroud.

At PSG he forms part of an all-star front three, sharing the limelight with Neymar and Lionel Messi, although the latter was absent on Tuesday with a nagging calf problem.

Messi had scored PSG’s goal in a 1-1 draw in Lisbon last week and without the Argentine they lacked some inspiration.

Starting from a position on the left of the attack, Mbappe -– the world’s top-earning footballer according to a recent Forbes magazine report — appeared isolated at times and only showed flashes of his brilliance before the penalty came late in the first half.

Juan Bernat was fouled by teenage Benfica defender Antonio Silva in the box, and Mbappe sent goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos the wrong way from the spot.

It was his 12th club goal in 13 games this season, one more than Neymar and four more than Messi.

He is also now PSG’s all-time top scorer in the Champions League with 31 goals, one more than Edinson Cavani.

Mbappe came close to scoring again early in the second half with a curling shot that ended up just the wrong side of the far post, and instead Benfica equalised in the 62nd minute.

English referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty after reviewing images of Marco Verratti’s needless challenge on Rafa Silva just inside the area, and Joao Mario smashed in the spot-kick.

Mbappe then had the ball in the net with an acrobatic volleyed effort late on, but the goal was disallowed for a clear offside, before he was substituted off in the dying minutes.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


World Cup News


More in Football