LISBON (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Benfica in the Champions League yesterday despite Lionel Messi’s brilliant curling strike.
The Argentina star scored midway through the first half in Lisbon but Danilo Pereira’s own goal before the break ensured PSG and Benfica remain level at the top of Group H on seven points.
Both clubs failed to win for just the second time this season in all competitions but are four points clear of Juventus, who bounced back from successive defeats to beat Maccabi Haifa 3-1 at home.
“We know it’s difficult to play at this ground, with this atmosphere. Benfica are a team in form,” PSG captain Marquinhos told Canal Plus.
Messi only scored 11 goals in 34 games in his first season for PSG last term, but already has eight in 13 this time around.
“It’s normal, it takes a little time,” said Marquinhos. “Now he feels a little more comfortable… I hope Leo Messi has a great season until the end to win this title.”
Sitting top of the Portuguese league despite dropping their first points at the weekend, Benfica’s high pressing rattled PSG as the hosts made a bright start.
Goncalo Ramos, who drew interest in the summer from PSG, saw his effort blocked by Gianluigi Donnarumma’s leg after he raced onto a long ball in behind the defence.
Ramos then stung the palms of Donnarumma from distance before the Italy goalkeeper produced a terrific save to deflect David Neres’ shot wide.
But PSG’s vaunted three-man attack of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe suddenly sparked into life and the visitors surged ahead as the Argentine finished the move he started in style.
Messi’s pass to Mbappe was helped on to Neymar, whose smart lay-off was whipped into the far top corner first-time by Messi for his 127th Champions League goal.