Champions League

Benfica 1-1 PSG: Own goal cancels out stunning Messi strike

Mitch Wilks
The spoils were shared in Portugal
The spoils were shared in Portugal / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages
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Lionel Messi's stunning curling effort wasn't enough to get Paris Saint-Germain over the line as they slumped to a 1-1 draw with Benfica in the Champions League.

In a clash between the top two in group H, the game was perfectly set up for one side to steal an advantage and claim top spot in the standings at the halfway point of this stage.

Messi combined insatiably with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, playing a pass into the Frenchman's feet who flicked the ball to the Brazilian. Before Benfica knew it, the ball had been laid back into the Argentine, who had nestled it into the top corner to fire the visitors into a 22nd minute lead.

The joy was somewhat short-lived, though, as Benfica responded well to falling behind and clawed themselves back into the contest.

After testing Gianluigi Donnarumma on a few occasions, his resolve was broken when Enzo Fernandez's cross was inadvertently turned in by Danilo Pereira after 41 minutes, sending the game into half-time level pegging.

Proceedings would become a war between goalkeepers as the game grew on. PSG's tantalising front three continued to carve out chances with Neymar and Mbappe both being denied by an inspired Odysseas Vlachodimos, while Donnarumma was also in fine form to keep out Benfica.

Nicolas Otamendi had a golden opportunity to head the hosts into the lead after 67 minutes from Alex Grimaldo's free-kick, but he couldn't steer it on target.

Mbappe then came even closer to scoring down the other end, with Vlachodimos pawing away a curled effort.

PSG had another chance late on to steal all three points, but Messi couldn't sort his feet out in time to make good on Vitinha's through ball, allowing the Benfica stopper to smother the opportunity and ensuring the points were shared.

With the firepower that PSG possess and the way they have performed this season under Christophe Galtier, a draw will feel like two points dropped rather than one gained.

Both sides look more than capable of performing in the knockout stages, but with Juventus finally getting their first win over in Turin, next week's reverse fixture at the Parc des Princes could prove pivotal.

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