Mbappé can’t save slumping PSG in CL loss to Bayern Munich

PSG's Lionel Messi, center, duels for the ball with Bayern's Joshua Kimmich, right, and Bayern's Benjamin Pavard during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich, at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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PARIS (AP) — Not even Kylian Mbappé’s substitute appearance could end Paris Saint-Germain’s slump, as it lost 1-0 at home to Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League clash.

A third straight loss made it five defeats in 11 games this year for PSG coach Christophe Galtier’s team.

Bayern winger Kingsley Coman volleyed home inside the penalty area from Alphonso Davies’ left-wing cross in the 53rd minute.

The Paris-raised Coman, who PSG sold to Juventus when he was 18, held his hands up to show he wasn’t celebrating scoring against his former club — again.

“It’s the city where I was born and raised so it was difficult to celebrate here,” Coman said. “Given our performance we could have done more, but at the end it was a bit difficult so we’re satisfied with the win.”

When Bayern won the last of its six Champions League titles in 2020, it beat PSG 1-0 with Coman heading home the winner.

The World Cup superstar Mbappé made an unexpectedly quick recovery from injury and had two would-be goals disallowed for offside after coming on in the second half.

“It was difficult, unpredictable. I wasn’t supposed to play but I wanted to play and help my mates. We did everything, we worked night and day to get me some game time,” Mbappé said. “I wanted to (start the game). But sometimes you have to be satisfied with what you can do, and that’s all I could do.”

The return leg is on March 8.

PSG was eliminated by Real Madrid in the last 16 last season and may need Mbappé at this best to avoid another early exit.

“When we have our players ready and we can play our attacking game, they (Bayern) are not comfortable,” Mbappé said. “We have to retain how we finished the game. We saw that we can cause them problems.”

Mbappé showed no ill effects of the thigh tear he sustained two weeks ago.

He had a shot saved by Yann Sommer in the 73rd after racing through down the left. Sommer saved Neymar’s follow-up and the ball fell to Mbappé near the line, but he was well offside.

Mbappé peeled away in delight after volleying Nuno Mendes’ cross from close range with 10 minutes left, but it was chalked off following a quick video review.

“That’s the new soccer, there’s VAR. If it’s offside, it’s offside, you just have to switch quickly,” Mbappé said. “The important thing is to go over there and qualify, and from what I saw that’s possible.”

Bayern’s defense held firm under some late pressure, although defender Benjamin Pavard received a second yellow card was sent off for a late tackle on Lionel Messi in stoppage time.

Bayern immediately generated pressure from the start against a nervous-looking PSG by closing down high up the field. PSG hadn’t lost three straight games since late 2011, which was only months into the new reign of Qatari owners QSI.

“Bayern really got on top of us and we struggled to hold the ball high up the pitch. The first half was very difficult for us,” Galtier said. “I knew we could use Kylian in the second half, but unfortunately we conceded this goal just before I was going to bring him on.”

The dominance of Julian Nagelsmann’s team in midfield was so complete that it forced Messi to drop deep to get the ball, and Neymar was anonymous for most of the match.

“We were a bit surprised by how much of the ball we had. We didn’t expect Paris to be so passive; it was a good first half,” Nagelsmann said. “The two times they really threatened it was offside.”

Midway through the first half, Neymar lay face-first on the field after a shoulder barge from a defender. English referee Michael Oliver waved play on and Sommer — although nearby — didn’t check on Neymar, who at the 2018 World Cup in Russia earned an unwelcome reputation for diving and play-acting.

Bayern’s possession didn’t lead to clear chances, however, and midfielder Joshua Kimmich’s 20-meter drive was easily captured by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 43rd.

Nagelsmann showed shrewd tactical sense by bringing on Davies and switching Coman from the left to the right flank with seamless efficiency. Bayern came close to 2-0 when former PSG striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had a shot tipped onto the post by Donnarumma.

PSG midfielder Warren Zaïre-Emery became the youngest player to start a Champions League knockout match at the age of 16 years, 343 days.