Sports, Football

PSG get Champions League campaign off to winning note

Published : 20 Sep 2023 08:19 PM

Paris Saint-Germain got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday as a Kylian Mbappe penalty set them up for a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes.

The French champions had dominated the first half without overly troubling the Dortmund defence, but they went ahead four minutes after the break when Mbappe scored a spot-kick awarded for a Niklas Suele handball.

Achraf Hakimi added a memorable second, and PSG could have won the Group F encounter by a far more handsome margin in the end.

Luis Enrique will hope they can build on this performance when they visit the English side New Castle next in a fortnight.

"It was an almost perfect evening," said Luis Enrique.

"I enjoyed practically everything about it, our intensity from the very beginning, the way we controlled the game for the first 75 minutes.

"We could have scored at least another goal but this win gives us confidence going forward. This is going to be a difficult group for everyone."

Dortmund, meanwhile, were nowhere near their best and must improve when they entertain Milan next in what is an unforgiving section.

They are still adapting to life without Jude Bellingham and coach Edin Terzic also dropped Sebastien Haller here, with the big striker enduring a difficult start to the campaign.

PSG are in the early weeks of a new era following the departures of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Marco Verratti, and Luis Enrique's arrival.

The former Spain coach, who won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2015, insisted on the eve of this game that he needs time to get his ideas across to his players, many of whom also arrived over the summer.

There were five new signings in PSG's line-up here, including Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani in attack.

Preferred to Goncalo Ramos, Kolo Muani was starting for the first time since joining from Eintracht Frankfurt.

With him, PSG controlled the first half, while Dortmund and their five-man defence sat back and offered little going forward.

Vitinha hit the upright in the 19th minute and Dembele later forced a save from goalkeeper Gregor Kobel at his near post, but PSG had precious little to show for a share of possession that reached almost 80 percent going into the break.

However, they got the breakthrough just after half-time, thanks to a helping hand from Suele, and the referee.

Barely 60 seconds of the second half had been played when a shot by Mbappe struck the Dortmund defender at close range.

Suele survived a VAR check when the ball struck his arm in the area late in the first half but this time Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano immediately pointed to the spot, although the award seemed harsh.

Mbappe stepped up to stroke in the penalty for his eighth goal this season, and the home side had done the hard part.

"The handball rule is not really clear," lamented Terzic.

"PSG naturally will say it was a handball and we will say it was not but in the end what annoys me the most is that we were just not aggressive enough."

The home side scored again on 58 minutes as Vitinha and Hakimi combined for the latter to run through and prod home from close range.

It was a great goal, although Hakimi was helped by Mats Hummels throwing himself to the floor rather than standing up and trying to make a block.

Dortmund sent on Marco Reus and recent signing Niclas Fuellkrug up front, but it was another substitute who came closest to pulling one back with London-born teenager Jamie Bynoe-Gittens hitting the post with 11 minutes left.

PSG squandered several chances to score again and substitute Ramos had an effort ruled out for offside at the death.