'Nobody could've imagined that!' – Galtier 'proud' despite PSG being pipped by Benfica in astonishing fashion

By Sports Desk November 03, 2022

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier was "proud" despite his team being astonishingly beaten to top spot in Champions League Group H by Benfica, an outcome that left captain Marquinhos frustrated.

Goals from Kylian Mbappe and Nuno Mendes at Juventus, either side of Leonardo Bonucci's equaliser, on Wednesday seemed to have Galtier's side on course to win the group courtesy of a 2-1 triumph.

However, Benfica scored five unanswered second-half goals at Maccabi Haifa to win 6-1, with Joao Mario's 92nd-minute effort snatching first place on away goals scored.

PSG and Benfica could not be separated by their head-to-head record, goals scored or conceded, making the away goals scored tie-breaker a Champions League first.

Finishing second means the Ligue 1 champions will face one of the group winners in the last 16, but Galtier generally seemed content, acknowledging how unusual and unfortunate it was to be pipped in such fashion.

"Of course, we have to value our campaign," he told reporters. "We beat Juventus twice, we got 14 points, we scored a lot of goals and in the end we finished second on the number of goals scored away from home, and that's how it is.

"But obviously I'm still very proud of my group, of my team in this group stage. We had a tough match, we knew we were going to have a difficult match, but we still managed to win, and then there is this scenario [Benfica scoring their sixth goal] that happens in the 92nd minute.

"Nobody could have imagined that. We finished second on the number of goals scored away from home. That's incredible."

But Marquinhos was rather more subdued as he struggled to hide his irritation despite claiming he was attempting to be optimistic.

"We're trying to take the positives out of it," he told reporters. "There were obviously two feelings, because we won against Juve in a difficult match, but we finished second, whereas the aim was to get this first place. Unfortunately, we didn't succeed.

"You have to look at the good aspects of things, there are good things to take away from this group stage, even if there are things to improve.

"In the Champions League, this first phase was important, but it is really played out in the second half of the season.

"That's when we have to perform well, be decisive, be good, because it's all about the end of the season."

Nevertheless, Marquinhos did value PSG's ability to see out an important win against a big club even though their performance was hardly spectacular.

"We have already seen teams win without necessarily being the best or playing the most beautiful football, but knowing how to be effective," he continued. "If we manage to be effective in these decisive moments, we can do great things.

"Even if there were difficult moments in this match, we managed to score and that unlocks a match. So, when we win a match like this, even if it wasn't our best game, we have to tell ourselves that it's important to know how to play like that too."

Related items

  • Toronto FC v Chicago Fire: Johnson excited to stay on with Reds Toronto FC v Chicago Fire: Johnson excited to stay on with Reds

    Sean Johnson is excited to extend his stay with Toronto FC, after penning a new contract with the club.

    The goalkeeper, who has been included in the United States’ squad for the Copa America, joined Toronto ahead of the 2023 season from New York City FC.

    While last season was a disappointment for the Reds, Toronto are sixth in the Eastern Conference, with 24 points from their 17 games so far in 2024.

    Johnson has kept four clean sheets in 12 MLS appearances, and his good form has been rewarded with a deal that will keep him with Toronto until the end of the 2026 campaign.

    Ahead of Toronto’s meeting with the Chicago Fire, Johnson told club media: “I am excited to extend my time in Toronto – the fans have welcomed me with open arms since arriving.

    “TFC has a rich history of success and I’m committed to giving everything to add some more special moments for the club and the city.”

    “We are happy to announce that Sean has signed an extension with Toronto as he has been an integral part of our evolution both on and off the field,” said Toronto general manager Jason Hernandez.

    “Sean will continue to provide us with the consistency and stability we will need in our group as we continue to push towards reaching our full potential. His leadership has been a fundamental aspect of our team’s identity, and we look forward to Sean helping our club achieve its goals in 2024 and beyond.”

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Toronto FC – Federico Bernardeschi

    Bernardeschi had a goal and an assist in Toronto’s draw with D.C. on June 1, taking his total to 11 goal contributions (seven goals, four assists) this season, one more than any Toronto player recorded during the 2023 campaign.

    Chicago Fire – Hugo Cuypers

    Cuypers scored one of the Fire’s two goals in their win over the Galaxy and has been involved in a goal in three straight MLS appearances. No player has been involved in a goal in four straight games for the Fire since Robert Beric in September-October 2020 (five straight).

    MATCH PREDICTION: TORONTO WIN

    Chicago snapped a nine-match winless run with a 2-1 home victory over the LA Galaxy on June 1. It was the Fire’s first multi-goal performance since their previous win, a 2-1 victory over Houston on April 6.

    Toronto have scored 33 goals in its last 11 matches in all competitions (W6 D2 L3). The Reds had totalled 32 goals in their previous 43 matches dating back to March 2023.

    The Reds are unbeaten in 12 straight home matches against the Fire (W7 D5) with Chicago’s last win in Toronto coming in 2012. This is Toronto’s longest home unbeaten run against any opponent in their MLS history.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Toronto FC – 44.5%

    Chicago Fire – 28.7%

    Draw – 26.8%

  • Euro 2024 data dive: Rampant Germany claim biggest European Championships win Euro 2024 data dive: Rampant Germany claim biggest European Championships win

    Scotland were no match for Germany as the rampant Euro 2024 hosts made a dream start to the tournament on Friday.

    Florian Wirtz got the ball rolling in the 10th minute, becoming the youngest scorer of an opening goal at the European Championships in the tournament's history.

    The excellent Jamal Musiala soon made it 2-0, rifling home after he was set up by Kai Havertz inside the area.

    In Wirtz (21 years, 42 days) and Musiala (21 years, 109 days), Germany became the first team in European Championship history to have two players aged 21 or younger score in the same match.

    Havertz turned scorer when he slotted in from the penalty spot before half-time, with Scotland defender Ryan Porteous seeing red for a lunge on Ilkay Gundogan, after a VAR review.

    Porteous became the second Scottish player sent off at a major tournament, after Craig Burley in the 1998 World Cup against Morocco.

    It is the first time a player has been sent off in the opening game of the Euros since 2012, when both Sokratis (Greece) and Wojciech Szczesny (Poland) were dismissed in a 1-1 draw.

    Havertz's successfully converted spot-kick also ensured Germany went in at half-time 3-0 up – it is just the third time in European Championship history a team has scored three goals in the first half of a game, along with France vs Belgium in 1984 (3-0 at half-time) and France vs Iceland in 2016 (4-0 at half-time).

    Germany made their numerical advantage count to go on and secure the biggest win by a host nation in their opening match at a European Championship tournament, and their biggest victory ever at the Euros, with an own goal from Antonio Rudiger the only negative.

    Indeed, that own goal was kind to Scotland, who had only one shot, which they failed to get on target, and mustered an xG of only 0.01, in comparison to Germany's 2.17.

    It marks the first time Scotland have failed to have a shot on target in a major tournament match since 1992, when they faced the Netherlands in the Euros.

    Steve Clarke's team put in a sorry performance, and must now pick themselves up to face Switzerland. They will go into that match on Wednesday on the back of suffering their heaviest defeat at a major tournament since they lost 7-0 to Uruguay at the 1954 World Cup.

    Germany, meanwhile, already have one foot in the knockouts, and could get the job done by beating Hungary.

    Musiala really was sensational, completing five of his eight dribble attempts while also having six touches in the opponent's box – four more than Scotland managed altogether.

    And finally, this match was the first match in European Championship history to see a red card, a penalty scored and an own goal scored.

    Euro 2024 has started in style, even if Scotland fans will be in a hurry to forget this result.

  • Nagelsmann hails Germany for handling pressure, admits surprise at Scotland's slow start Nagelsmann hails Germany for handling pressure, admits surprise at Scotland's slow start

    Julian Nagelsmann hailed his Germany players for the way they handled the pressure of being Euro 2024 hosts in their 5-1 win over Scotland, adding he was surprised by the lack of aggression on show from Steve Clarke's men.

    Germany recorded the biggest opening-game win at a European Championship, with Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz, Niclas Fullkrug and Emre Can scoring.

    The result made Nagelsmann just the second coach to win his first Euros game by four or more goals, after Sweden's Lars Lagerback in 2004 (5-0 versus Bulgaria).

    It was also Germany's biggest victory at the Euros, and the first time Scotland had conceded five or more goals in a competitive game since they were trounced 6-0 by the Netherlands in a Euro 2004 qualifier 21 years ago.

    Germany endured a troubled build-up to their home tournament, with Nagelsmann only having eight games to prepare after Hansi Flick was sacked last year.

    He believes they did an excellent job of handling the pressure that comes with a home opener, telling ITV Sport: "I'm happy, I'm satisfied. 

    "In the first game as the home country… we looked back at the first games of the last tournaments and there can be a kind of pressure.

    "Especially in the first 20 minutes, we were brilliant, we had great ball possession and great counter-pressing. 

    "I was happy with the performance and we stayed focused for the whole game.

    "We conceded one goal, but in the end it's okay. Our players were complaining about conceding that goal, which is a good sign when we were already four goals in the lead."

    Scotland did not attempt a single shot on target and failed to register an effort of any kind until Scott McKenna forced an own goal off Antonio Rudiger in the 87th minute.

    Nagelsmann admits he was expecting more from Clarke's team, who found themselves three goals and a man down by half-time as Ryan Porteous was sent off for a horror challenge on Ilkay Gundogan. 

    "I was kind of surprised that Scotland weren't that aggressive in the first 20 minutes," Nagelsmann said.

    "I think they were surprised by our possession, which was really concentrated. They started the game very well and made one mistake in the first 15 minutes.

    "Then they were kind of surprised, kind of afraid. They felt we had players in the offensive row that could score goals so they defended low. 

    "They didn't make the high pressure like they sometimes did in the qualifiers. I think the first 20 minutes were the key to the game."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.