Real Madrid came from one goal behind to pull off one of the greatest Champions League comebacks (3-2) on Wednesday as Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick to dump Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) out in the last 16
Kylian Mbappe, who is expected to join Real Madrid on a free transfer at the end of the season, gave PSG a two-goal lead in the tie with a breakaway goal late in the first half – a goal that moved him clear of Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the Ligue 1 side’s second all-time top scorer with 157 goals.
Benzema led a stirring Real Madrid comeback in the second half, grabbing his first in the 61st minute after an error from Gianluigi Donnarumma.
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Benzema then sealed their progress into the quarter-finals with two goals in the space of two minutes to leave Mauricio Pochettino’s side stunned.
The game’s first clear chance came in the 13th minute when Mbappe’s low strike from a tight angle was kept out by the legs of Thibaut Courtois.
Only a superb fingertip save from Donnarumma prevented Benzema’s whipped effort from finding the top-right corner midway through the first half before Mbappe saw a goal ruled out after an offside call against Nuno Mendes.
He was not to be denied six minutes before the interval, however, the World Cup winner latching onto Neymar’s first-time pass and curling into Courtois’ near post from just inside the penalty area.
Mbappe thought he had doubled PSG’s advantage shortly after the restart, yet he was again denied by the offside flag after rounding Courtois.
Real Madrid reduced the deficit in the 61st minute, Benzema stroking home from Vinicius Junior’s pass following Donnarumma’s dismal kick under pressure from the France international.
Benzema then drew his side level on aggregate in the 76th minute with a deflected strike after being picked out by Luka Modric’s clever pass.
Benzema then completed a breathtaking comeback as PSG conceded possession straight from the kick-off, flicking home Vinicius’ pass to spark jubilant scenes at the Santiago Bernabeu.
When the full-time whistle confirmed their 3-2 aggregate victory, many of Madrid’s players dropped to their knees and looked up to the sky, as much perhaps in disbelief as joy, after completing one of the most memorable turnarounds in the club’s recent history.
“Every game is a final now for us in the Champions League and La Liga but today we showed that Real Madrid is alive,” said Benzema.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino fumed at referee Danny Makkelie for not whistling for a foul in the build-up to the first Real Madrid goal.
“Explaining what happened is easy, there was a foul on Donnarumma during the first goal, and that changed everything,” he said.
“It’s hard not to talk about this big refereeing mistake, which I don’t understand and won’t forgive. I don’t understand why the referee didn’t call VAR.”