Karim Benzema scored a second-half hat-trick as Real Madrid progressed to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain after a sensational comeback at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Real Madrid knew that a win was the only option if they were to continue their quest for a 14th European title. With that in mind ‘Los Blancos’ started on the front foot, as Vinícius Júnior made himself known to the visitors down the left-hand side as his quick footwork gave Danilo Pereira and Achraf Hakimi problems. Kylian Mbappé was doing the same for ‘The Parisians’, forcing Thibaut Courtois into a cluster of early saves.
The two sides continued the quick tempo deep into the first-half, with both coming close to breaking the deadlock, Mbappé looked to have opened the scoring as Nuno Mendes found space on the left and his cutback was slotted under the Real keeper by the 23-year-old Frenchman, but VAR ruled it out due to Mendes being offside.
There were no mistakes the second time around, as Mbappé finally got his goal. PSG won the ball back deep in their half and Neymar was quick to flick a loose ball over the top of the Real defence, putting Mbappé through one-on-one and he sent the ball into the same bottom left-hand corner as his last shot to give the visitors the lead.
Carlo Anceloitt’s men piled the pressure on at the start of the second half, forcing the PSG defence to scramble on a few occasions to maintain their lead, but that ambition going forward nearly cost them just after the 50th minute. A piece of spectacular footwork from Mbappé sent Courtois the wrong way as he tapped the ball home, but Real were kept alive by another offside call. The hosts were given a lifeline through Gianluigi Donnarumma’s mistake, as he was caught in possession in his own box, allowing Benzema to breathe fresh life into the tie.
Madrid levelled the tie on aggregate through another Benzema goal. Luka Modrić unpicked the visitors’ defence with a glorious ball through to the Frenchman who turned and scored to give his side the lead. Astonishingly, Real scored again 12 seconds later. Vinícius was putting pressure on Marquinhos who half-heartedly cleared the ball to the edge of the box where Benema was lurking to complete his hat-trick and smash the ball into the bottom right to give Madrid the lead on the night and overall.
PSG continued to panic in the later stages, as Real Madrid calmly saw out the closing minutes of this electrifying tie and were unlucky to not extend their lead in the process. Another European collapse surely leaves Mauricio Pochettino with serious questions to answer over his future at the Parc des Princes, after yet again failing to claim the trophy they desire the most.