Poch calls for repeat in Paris

He hails win against misfiring Bayern, with 2020 finalists PSG favourites to progress

Kylian Mbappe about to score PSG's winner in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.
Kylian Mbappe about to score PSG's winner in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MUNICH • Paris St-Germain's Kylian Mbappe said he felt no pressure in facing one of the world's best goalkeepers in Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer on Wednesday and hoped to add to his tally after beating the German stopper twice in their 3-2 Champions League win.

The 22-year-old scored an early opener for PSG and Marquinhos put them 2-0 up in the 28th minute before the hosts hit back through Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Thomas Muller.

On a snowy evening in the Bavarian capital, Mbappe then fired in his eighth goal of the competition in the 68th minute, drilling in from a tight angle and with two defenders in front of him to put PSG back in front.

This was a record 19th appearance in the Champions League quarter-finals for Bayern, but there was little for them to celebrate at the final whistle.

It was their first Champions League loss in more than two years and the first for coach Hansi Flick, who had been unbeaten in his previous 16 matches in Europe's premier club competition.

Mbappe said he relished the chance to test himself against Neuer. "I love to play against the best player in the world and Neuer is one of the best 'keepers in the history of the game," the 22-year-old told BT Sport. "I don't have any pressure."

PSG had lost to Bayern 1-0 in the Champions League final last season but are now one step closer to knocking out the title holders ahead of the second leg at home on Tuesday.

"I am happy with the result and the attitude of the team, who found themselves in difficult situations against the best side in Europe," PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said. "We need to congratulate the players for their sacrifice and we want to repeat this kind of performance."

Despite defensive mistakes, the Germans will still be wondering how they failed to earn at least a draw with 31 goal attempts to PSG's six, 15 corners to one, and a string of golden opportunities.

Flick remained upbeat though and said: "With the chances we had, we could have got a good result despite conceding three goals. We don't like to lose, but the way the team played was top."

PSG had to survive intense late pressure from Bayern, with David Alaba and Muller going agonisingly close for the hosts, but hung on for victory ahead of next week's return leg in Paris.

"We should have scored far more goals," Muller said. "If we had shown the killer instinct that characterises us, then it would have been a different game."

The Bundesliga champions were without their best striker Robert Lewandowski after he was injured during the World Cup qualifier against Andorra.

The Pole confirmed he will not be ready for the second leg at the Parc des Princes and told Sky Sports on Wednesday evening that "it's too early to return".

He added: "It's not a good feeling to watch Bayern games and I'd rather be on the pitch. I'm doing everything I can to come back. It will only happen when I feel really good."

He called on his teammates to step up and noted: "Neymar and Mbappe are of course top players. This is a challenge to our defence. I keep my fingers crossed for Muller to score more goals."

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Poch calls for repeat in Paris'. Subscribe