Real Madrid 3-1 PSG: Champions League – as it happened

Real Madrid came from behind to take a two-goal lead to Paris in a helter-skelter match that was strangely low in quality

Read Sid Lowe’s match report from the Bernabeu

Match report: Real Madrid 3-1 Paris Saint Germain

Sid Lowe was the Guardian’s man typing his fingers to stumps at the Bernabeu and here’s his on-the-whistle take on Real Madrid’s first leg win.

A strange game: The second half of the first half was a real white-knuckle ride, but the rest was weirdly hectic. In terms of entertainment, I didn’t think it measured up to last night’s match between Tottenham and Real Madrid at all. Sid Lowe will have a report in presently and I’ll be interested to see what he made of it. Neymar fluffed a decent chance to make it 3-02 at the death, but it’s hard to see PSG coming back from this. They just don’t seem to have a big game mentality.

Full-time: Real Madrid 3-1 PSG

Peep! Peep! Peeeeep! Real Madrid come from behind to take a 3-1 lead to Paris in a weird game that had moments of great quality and individual brilliance, but at times resembled a bunch of puppies chasing a plastic bag around a field on a windy day. That was a great demonstration of big game management from these big game players.

Real Madrid celebrate at full time.
Real Madrid celebrate at full time. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


90 min: From looking good to win this first leg less than 20 minutes ago, PSG are now 3-1 down. If it was any other team you’d say they’re still in with a good shout of winning the tie. But they’re not any other team, they’re PSG - the bottlers other bottlers doff their hats too and call The Capitulators. You could set your watch by them.

89 min: Having been under the cosh for long periods, Real Madrid are threatening to run amok here. They surge forward, but Cristiano Ronaldo curls a low effort from distance straight into the arms of Alphonse Areola.

PSG substitution from two minutes ago: Julian Draxler on for Giovani Lo Celso.

GOAL! Real Madrid 3-1 PSG (Marcelo 86)

Marcelo!!!! The Brazilian full-back gets on the end of an Ansensio cross from the left to fire home with a first time diagonal effort that takes a deflection on its way past Areola.

Marcelo scores the third.
Marcelo scores the third. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters
And celebrates.
And celebrates. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters


GOAL! Real Madrid 2-1 PSG (Ronaldo 83)

Ronaldo scores again! Great work by Asensio down the left to get on a ball in behind by Bale. The cross goes in, PSG half clear, the ball comes in from Asensio again and Alphonse Arbeola can only parry the cross. He dives to tip the ball on to the lurking Ronaldo’s knee and he sends it back the other way from three or four yards out.

Ronaldo scores his sides second.
Ronaldo scores his sides second. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
And celebrates.
And celebrates. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters


79 min: Nacho takes one for the team, fouling Neymar and getting a yellow card to prevent a PSG break. Real Madrid double-substitution: Isco and Casemiro off, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio on.

Nacho fouls Neymar.
Nacho fouls Neymar. Photograph: STRINGER/Reuters


77 min: A dangerous Yuri Berchiche cross into the Real Madrid penalty area seems certain to be poked home at the far post by Dani Alves, but the ball’s just this much too far ahead of his outstretched foot.

72 min: Two attacks in quick succession from PSG, but a corner is all that comes from them after, first Alves and then Mbappe are forced to shoot from narrow angles. Soon after, Sergio Ramos blocks well from Neymar, prompting the Brazilian to hold his head in his hands in frustration.

69 min: There’s a break in plays as Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi receives treatment from the PSG medical team after getting in the way of a Neymar cross and taking it full force in the side of the head from close range. Before their arrival, Marco Verratti inspects his ear and informs him of the good news that he’s not bleeding.

67 min: Lo Celso drags a speculative low effort from distance a foot or two wide of Keylor Navas’s goal. Real Madrid substitution: Gareth Bale on for Karim Benzema.

Bale on for Benzema.
Bale on for Benzema. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images


66 min: PSG substitution: Thomas Meunier on for Edinson Cavani - a full-back for a striker.

64 min: Now it’s Luka Modric’s to take a blatant dive and win a free-kick for Real Madrid in perfect shooting range, about 30 yards from goal. To add insult to non-existent injury, Rabiot gets booked. Ronaldo fires the free-kick into the wall.

61 min: Neymar goes to ground without appearing to have been touched by – I think – Verratti, but avoids a yellow card for simulation. Moments previously, Areola got down bravely at the feet of Karim Benzema to prevent the Real Madrid striker poking home an Isco cross into the PSG penalty area.

59 min: Isco tries to play Ronaldo in behind PSG’s high line, but he’s flagged for offside. Replays show the decision to have been correct.

56 min: Marquinhos deflects a Cristiano Ronaldo cross out from a corner, from which nothing comes. The Bernabeu PA announcer is having a rare old time, tonight, singing his way through the match in very annoying, drunk-uncle-at-a-wedding mode. Here’s hoping that doesn’t catch on.

54 min: Adrien Rabiot strikes on the half-volley from inside the Real Madrid penalty area after being teed up by a pull-back from the touchline. His shot is blocked by Sergio Ramos’s arm and PSG appeal for a penalty, but don’t get one. PSG moving into the ascendency here again.

Rabiot has a pop.
Rabiot has a pop. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images


53 min: Sergio Ramos out-jumps Edinson Cavani to head a cross from the left clear.

51 min: End to end stuff again as Real Madrid advance into PSG territory and win a throw-in deep inside the opposition half. PSG clear their lines, despite Giovani Lo Celso losing possession briefly.

50 min: With PSG on the attack again, Dani Alves overhits his cross from the right touchline.

49 min: PSG go close, with Kylian Mbappe testing Keylor Navas with a low shot from the penalty area after being teed up by Neymar. Navas got down quickly and saved well with a strong hand.

Mbappe shoots.
Mbappe shoots. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters


47 min: More good play from MArcelo, who tricks Dani Alves with a shimmy and a soft-shoe shuffle before having a cross into the penalty area blocked.

Second half: Real Madrid 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain

46 min: Eyes front for the second half, with no changes on either side. Real Madrid get play under way, with a traditional seldom-seen-these-days two-man kick-off.

An observation: After Lo Celso conceded that penalty, Sergio Ramos was kind enough to remind the referee that the Paris Saint-Germain was already on a yellow card, because he’s helpful like that. His intervention prompted BT Sport commentator Darren Fletcher to say: “He’s got the memory of an elephant ... and the trophy cabinet of one too.” Hmmm.

Half-time: Real Madrid 1-1 PSG

And breathe. It’s been a frantic opening 45 minutes with plenty of individual skill on show and level pegging seems about fair. PSG took the lead through the unlikely source of Adrien Rabiot, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to equalise from the spot just before the interval. Real Madrid brought to incredible saves out of Alphonse Areola, so I suppose you could argue they’re winning on points, but this could go either way tonight.

45+1 min: It seemed a clear penalty to me and Lo Celso was extremely lucky to avoid a second yellow card that would have resulted in his dismissal. He put hands on Toni Kroos, who went to ground. Ronaldo made no mistake.

GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Paris Saint Germain (Ronaldo 45)

Ronaldo equalises! Cristiano Ronaldo makes no mistake, burying the ball low and hard into the bottom left-hand corner. Areola guess the right way, but couldn’t get a hand to it.

Ronaldo scores the equaliser from the penalty spot.
Ronaldo scores the equaliser from the penalty spot. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters
And celebrates.
And celebrates. Photograph: Juanjo Martin/EPA


Penalty for Real Madrid!

43 min: Seconds after Areola denies Benzema with a brilliant save, Giovani Lo Celso concedes a penalty.

40 min: With Cavani and the outstanding Neymar up in support in the centre, Kylian Mbappe tries to send in a cross from the right. Isco is back to intercept.

39 min: Moments before that Cavani effort, Ronaldo curled an effort high and wide of the PSG goal, when he was in plenty of space and might have taken more time.

38 min: Cavani goes close to steering a second into the bottom right-hand corner from inside a crowded penalty area, only to have his effort blocked by a desperate lunge from Casemiro. PSG are bossing Real Madrid at the moment.

36 min: With PSG attacking down the right, Kylian Mbappe whipped in a cross, which was dummied by Cavani in the penalty area. Neymar it was, who flicked the ball into the path of the onrushing and completely unmarked Rabiot, who fired past Keylor Navas. There was nobody tracking the Frenhcman’s run - I think Luka Modric was supposed to be keeping tabs on him.

GOAL! Real Madrid 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain (Rabiot 33)

PSG take the lead! Adrien Rabiot makes a sprint from midfield to fire PSG into the lead from about 15 yards after being teed up by a back-heel as PSG attack down the right on a counter-attack.

Rabiot scores the opener.
Rabiot scores the opener. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
Neymar runs to celebrate with Rabiot.
Neymar runs to celebrate with Rabiot. Photograph: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images


31 min: If only there was some sort of football cliche to describe a game in which the action shifts from one end to the pitch to the other repeatedly at great speed, with chances for both teams repeatedly coming at each end ... oh, hold on!

29 min: Ronaldo misses a wonderful chance to put Real ahead. With Real on the attack, Marcelo plays him in on goal with an incredible curled cross-field pass from the left touchline. ronaldo bears down on Areola, the goalkeeper stays on his feet and is rewarded by having the ball blasted into his face. Ronaldo throws his arms in the air in frustration, unable to believe he’s failed to score.

27 min: Neymar eschews a great scoring opportunity just inside the Real Madrid penalty area and tries to tee up Kylian Mbappe instead. The teenager wasn’t expecting the pass and miscontrols.


26 min: Cristiano Ronaldo takes the free kick, trying to get the ball up over the wall and down into the top left-hand corner. He gets the first bit right ...

Ronaldo takes the free-kick.
Ronaldo takes the free-kick. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images


25 min: Real Madrid win a free-kick just outside PSG penalty area for a Lo Celso foul on Isco. This is a great scoring opportunity.

24 min: The ball’s played wide to Nacho on the right touchline as Real attack again. He hoofs his attempted cross high and wide.

20 min: Lots of huff and puff in this opening quarter, but no chances of note to report so far. Real Madrid are having the better of proceedings, but have created little in the way of chances. The game is being played at a helter-skelter pace that will have to slow down eventually but - whisper it - it isn’t a patch on Juve v Spurs last night ... yet.

19 min: Isco curls a cross towards the far post, hoping to find the head of Ronaldo. Marquinhos heads clear.

18 min: Neymar gets down the inside left and attempts to drill in a cross, only to find the ball’s path obstructed by several men in white.

17 min: Luka Modric is lucky to avoid a yellow card for a tackle on Neymar that was very similar to the one that earned the Brazilian a booking moments previously.

16 min: Luka Modric tries to pick out Karim Benzema in the Barcelona penalty area, but Presnel Kimpembe intercepts and clears.

14 min: Nacho is needlessly tripped by Neymar on the halfway line and is booked for his troubles. Sound the disciplinary tightrope klaxon!

Neymar trips Nacho.
Neymar trips Nacho. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters


13 min: Marco Verratti plays a wonderfully weighted ball inside the Real Madrid right-back Nacho for Neymar to chase. He does exactly that, winning the race to the ball and whipping in a cross that looks certain to land in the path of the onrushing Edinson Cavani, until Raphael Varane makes a crucial interception.

12 min: Ronaldo and Marcelo combine down by the corner flag, with the full-back sending in a cross. It’s too close to Alphonse Areola in the PSG goal.

10 min: Marcelo receives treatment but doesn’t seem badly hurt and resumes play, although he’s holding his right arm quite gingerly.

8 min: Marcelo goes down hurt after a challenge by Dani Alves as the pair contested a bouncing ball. Alves immediately rushes to his compatriot’s assistance and waves at the referee to stop play. There was no foul, but Marcelo looks in serious distress. You can hear his screams of pain being picked up by the pitch-side microphones.

7 min: Real Madrid continue to press and press and press, not giving PSG’s players a second to settle on the ball. After Kroos forces a save from Alphonse Areola after hsooting through a thicket of bodies, PSG eventually get out of their own half and in behind the Madrid defence with a sortie down the left.

4 min: Real Madrid have started at an unbelievable lick here and have PSG in all sorts of trouble. Ronaldo lashes a volley across the face of goal after latching on to a through ball from Isco. Soon after, Marquinhos, PSG’s skipper for the night, almost diverts the ball into his own net.

Ronaldo hits the volley.
Ronaldo hits the volley. Photograph: STRINGER/Reuters


2 min: You know those goal-line officials idiot pundits who should know better claim don’t do anything? I’ll bet you any money the referee consulted one of those before making up his mind on that penalty decision. his whistle was halfway to his mouth before he decided against blowing it.


1 min: Ferocious early pressing from Real, who win a corner straight away. Toni Kroos plays it short to Isco, who returns the favour. The ball’s lumped into the box and Yuri Berchiche appears to foul Kroos. Real appeal for a penalty and the referee thinks long and hard about it. No spot-kick is forthcoming.

Real Madrid v PSG is go!

1 min: Real Madrid play in their customary white shirts, white shorts and white shorts. PSG play in all black. Paris Saint-Germain get the ball rolling.

Out they march ...

The teams line up for the Champions League anthem, which blares out over the Tannoy. Kick-off is just a few handshakes, some stretches, a coin-toss and one shrill blast of a whistle away.

Great Tifosi.
Great Tifosi. Photograph: STRINGER/Reuters


Not long now ...

The crowd wait patiently in a packed Bernabeu as the teams line up in the tunnel and wait to be led out by the team of match officials.

A gamble by Unai Emery ...

One suspects that if PSG do badly tonight and any or all of contentious selections Presnel Kimpembe, Yuri Berchiche and Giovani Lo Celso are deemed to be culpable, Unai Emery will be pilloried in the media afterwards ... by journalists and pundits, who will of course have the benefit of hindsight.

Meanwhile on BT Sport: “The Guardian’s Sid Lowe is on the telly-box standing pitch-side at the Bernabeu for BT Sport, saying that “there’s a belief within Madrid” that Real think they can get Neymar to leave PSG for them. Sid knows.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain line-ups

Real Madrid: Navas, Nacho, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Kroos, Casemiro, Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo.

Subs: Casilla, Bale, Hernandez, Lucas, Hakimi, Asensio, Kovacic.

PSG: Areola, Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Yuri, Verratti, Lo Celso, Rabiot, Mbappe, Cavani, Neymar.

Subs: Trapp, Thiago Silva, Di Maria, Meunier, Diarra, Draxler, Pastore.

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)

No starting berth for Gareth Bale ...

The Welshman has to settle for a place on the Real Madrid bench, with Isco getting the nod ahead of him. Nacho starts in place of Dani Carvajal.

For PSG, Presnel Kimpembe does, as predicted, start instead of Thiago Silva, who is dropped to the bench. With Thiago Motta out injured, Unai Emery has gone with youth over experience by picking Giovani Lo Celso ahead of Lasanna Diarra. We’ll have the full line-ups for you very shortly.

Unai Emery speaks

“This game is a real opportunity for us,” said PSG’s manager. “We want to continue to grow and playing a knockout game against the European champions, the 11-time champions, is an opportunity to show where we are and where we want to get to.”

On PSG’s opponents: “We are up against the record holders in this competition,” said Emery. “They’re historically the best side in this competition. We respect them both individually and collectively. I am confident my players can demonstrate their ability and that we’re ready to win this match. I’m expecting the best Real Madrid side tomorrow. The 11 they name will be strong. It’s Madrid, they’ll play the side they think will win them the game.”

Unai Emery
Unai Emery speaking to the press last night. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Zinedine Zidane speaks ...

A master at saying plenty while simultaneously saying nothing, the Real Madrid denied manager denied he was under sort of pressure ahead of tonight’s match. “We are happy to play these kinds of games - it’s not pressure,” he said. “We live for these games. Fans want to see a great game of football and nothing else. You need to ask Unai Emery about pressure from their point of view. It’s a 50-50 game. We’re preparing to play the best game possible. It’s evens, as it always is.

On the meeting of tonight’s star turns. “Ronaldo and Neymar are great players,” he said. “[With Ronaldo] we are talking about a player who has done extraordinary things, won five Ballons d’Or and you can’t compare them. It’s not Ronaldo v Neymar, it’s Madrid v Paris. Everyone wants to see a good game. I’m not thinking about my future. I’m only focused on tomorrow. I can’t control the rest; the only thing I’m interested in is tomorrow. It’s not a final – it is two Champions League games. We want to play well and if we do that, we’ll have a good chance. The squad are focused on tomorrow’s game. I’m thinking about that and that only. The system is not important; what’s important is how we play.”

Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane addresses the press at yesterday’s pre-match briefing. Photograph: Emilio Naranjo/EPA

Early team news ...

Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal is suspended, which means Nacho could come into the side in a like-for-like swap. Alternatively, Raphael Varane could move to right-back, with Nacho partnering Sergio Ramos in central defence.

For PSG, Unai Emery is rumoured to be thinking of dropping his skipper, Thiago Silva, and replacing him with Presnel Kimpembe alongside Marquinos in central defence. With Thiago Motta out injured, Emery will look to either his January signing Lassana Diarra or the young Argentinian Lo Celso to anchor his midfield. Despite concerns earlier this week, Edinson Cavani and Layvin Kurzawa were passed fit to travel.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain preview

After last year’s monumental bottle-job against Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain have the chance to atone for their comical capitulation but will have to get past the reigning champions if they are to avoid accusations that all the money in the world can’t buy you heart and a bit of backbone. They travel to the Bernabeu tonight for the first leg of what promises to be a fascinating tie, in which the managers of both teams find themselves under extreme pressure.

Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid are having, by their own lofty standards, a disastrous season, finding themselves fourth in the table and 17 points off the pace set by Barcelona. PSG lead Ligue1 by 12 points but only time will tell if Unai Emery insistence that they have learned from last season’s embarrassment is anything other than bluster.

Whichever manager loses over too legs is likely to find themselves out of a job. Chocks away, then, for what promises to be an intriguing battle of galacticos as two of the richest, most talked about teams in world football go head-to-head in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League. Would it be churlish to ask if there’s any conceivable way it can be arranged for both to lose?