There was some relief among home fans at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night after Kylian Mbappe made the breakthrough.
After a cautious first half, with Real Sociedad keeping the French giants at bay, tensions rose as the Parisians looked to take the lead in their Champions League round of 16 tie.
But great players step up in big moments, right? And tonight it was the 25-year-old World Cup winner who once again stepped up at the far post to break the deadlock and inspire Luis Enrique’s team to a 2-0 victory.
In the end, it was Mbappé’s reactions at the far post, and a bit of luck, that helped PSG’s all-time leading scorer find the breakthrough.
It came in the 58th minute of the match, with Ousemane Dembélé taking a corner into the Sociedad penalty area, and the ball appeared to bounce off Marquinhos’ back.
The ball headed towards the far post and Mbappé was the first to react, leaping forward to flick the ball over Alex Remiro into the net.
It was his 44th goal in the Champions League, and while it may not have been his best goal, it was an important one, with PSG looking brighter, putting pressure on the visitors in the second half.
It could have been his second too, as Mbappe went close in the first half, bursting into the box after making one of his solo runs before curling a low shot towards goal. Remiro had blocked it, to deny the forward.
Sociedad had several chances of their own, perhaps the most notable being Takefusa Kubo’s shot that sailed just slightly wide of the right post.
But PSG’s reaction after Mbappé’s goal was revealing of its importance. They grew taller, created more space, and became a different animal.
Bradley Barcola doubled his lead with an excellent finish, weaving around several defenders to score his first Champions League goal, flicking the ball past Remiro into the net.
As rumors grow about Mbappé’s potential move to Real Madrid, he continues to play a pivotal role within PSG and he delivered once again tonight.
After joining the club in 2017, initially on loan from Monaco, there is perhaps no better way to end his time with the French side than by winning the Champions League.
But Sociedad posed a very difficult opponent for the Ligue 1 club. PSG will need to improve their performance when they visit the Reale Arena on March 5 if they hope to advance to the quarter-finals.
More to continue…