As soon as the group stage draw was out for this season’s UEFA Champions League, everyone’s attention soon fell on Group F, which consists of French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, Italian Serie A powerhouses AC Milan, last season’s runners-up in German Bundesliga 1 Borussia Dortmund and up and rising English Premier League club Newcastle United. Three Matchdays have passed for this year’s competition since then, and teams have been taking turn to top the Group of Death, with the latest leaders being Kylian Mbappé’s PSG, after they beat Milan at home and Dortmund shocked Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
Paris Saint-Germain Eager to Win After Newcastle’s 4-1 Thrashing
The last Matchday in the UEFA Champions League certainly was not kind to Paris Saint-Germain, since the French side was outplayed by the Magpies with a more-than-convincing scoreline of 4-1 at the latter’s home. The 4-1 match between Newcastle and PSG saw the former record their biggest win in European club football competition, whereas it was also the French outfit’s heaviest group stage defeat in the tournament since their 3-0 loss to Chelsea almost two decades ago. Paris Saint-Germain went into the Milan game with the huge loss still ringing everyone’s ears.
The defending Ligue 1 winners and last season’s fourth placed Italian Serie A team traded punches before the half-hour mark, but it was the home side who got their lead, courtesy of Mbappé’s effort. The 24-year-old Frenchman had Warren Zaïre-Emery to thank for the goal, after the 17-year-old midfielder battled the opposition in the middle park of the field and fed him the ball just outside the penalty box. Mbappé then took on Fikayo Tomori, before firing a shot into the bottom left corner.
Notwithstanding by a disallowed goal in the 49th minute, Paris Saint-Germain doubled their lead four minutes after the VAR check, this time via new summer signing Randal Kolo Muani. Fellow countryman and latest addition Ousmane Dembélé received a short-corner pass in the dangerous zone and lashed a powerful strike against Mike Maignan. The French goalkeeper could not keep the ball in his hands and the parried ball fell nicely for Kolo Muani to put into the empty net. It was the player’s first Champions League goal for his new club.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) October 25, 2023
Lee Kang-in Put an Icing on the Cake
The goal technically made the game beyond reach for Milan, who are yet to taste any victories in the UEFA Champions League thus far, but Paris Saint-Germain was not done with the night. With a minute to go before the added time, substitute Lee Kang-in, who replaced Dembélé 18 minutes earlier, scored his first ever goal for Paris Saint-Germain. The South Korean forward played a one-two with Zaïre-Emery, followed by the latter’s cross into the striking distance. Gonçalo Ramos then smartly left the opportunity for his strike partner to net home Paris Saint-Germain’s third goal of the evening, giving Luis Enrique’s side all three points for the second time in this season’s UEFA Champions League.
Luis Enrique: “We Were Better Than Our Opponents.”
Ex-head coach of the Spain national team and current gaffer of Paris Saint-Germain Enrique had this to say after the match: “I’m happy, very happy! It started with mistakes, with a lack of confidence. In the first 20 or 25 minutes, I’d say. We were full of doubt. Kylian’s goal calmed us down. In the second half, I think we were better than our opponents.
“In a match at this level, you can’t dominate the whole game. We didn’t suffer defensively, but we weren’t precise. So instead of being in our opponents’ half, we were more in our own half. In the second half, I think the players were liberated by the goal. We had more confidence and the game started with Ousmane’s goal. It’s a shame it was disallowed, but after that, the team continued to create chances. In the end, it was a great win.
“It’s great to see the Parc des Princes like this and for our supporters to enjoy it. Now we have to think about the league, but as far as the Champions League is concerned, we have to think about winning in Milan, about giving everything as if it were a final.”
View this post on Instagram
PSG Top of Group F After Three Matches
Elsewhere in another Group F fixture, Edin Terzić’s Borussia Dortmund travelled to St. James’ Park, England to face Eddie Howe’s in-form Newcastle United, and the team in yellow managed to secure a surprising 1-0 victory at enemy’s territory, thanks to 23-year-old German midfielder Felix Nmecha’s strike right before half time. Having completed his transfer to Dortmund earlier this year, Nmecha’s goal against Newcastle United was his first goal for the German giants, and the strike went on to give Dortmund their first win in the 2023/2024 UEFA Champions League Season.
With Paris Saint-Germain’s own 3-0 victory versus Milan and Dortmund’s shocking away result against the Magpies, the French outfit returned to the top of Group of Death after three Matchdays in this year’s competition, leading the rest of the pack with at least two points, while Dortmund currently sit level on 4 points with Newcastle United.
PSG will next travel to San Siro to meet AC Milan again for the return leg of this group phase while the Black and Yellow welcome the Magpies to Signal Iduna Park for their game a fortnight later. Matchday 4 of the Group of Death in this year’s UEFA Champions League is likely to see which two teams have the highest chances of progressing into the knockout round of the competition, and the winless AC Milan will have to dig deep to achieve such a goal.